Friday, January 25, 2019

EmmDev 2019-01-25 [Sermon on the Mount] Words, Oaths and Intentions

Words, Oaths and Intentions

In times of corruption and dishonest gain, truth is in short supply. When trust levels are low, people resort to demanding or making oaths.
Jesus has some lessons to teach us:
Firstly, in the Old Testament, oaths were made to people or to God. Oaths made to God in the temple were considered more binding then oaths made to others in the marketplace or home. Jesus rejected this practice.
The other concern around oaths were that people invoked God as their witness or "accountability partner." Because God's name was considered holy, it was felt that this holiness would "rub off" on their promises, making them look and sound more believable. Essentially people were abusing the Lord's name for their own purposes. This, it could be argued, was blasphemy.
So, to avoid outright blasphemy, people would swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem or their own heads. Jesus argued that these were actually all just indirect references to God who is the Owner and Sustainer of all.
So, according to Jesus, vows and oaths are not necessary. Instead, we should use our words plainly and truthfully - yes means yes and no means no. If you think about it, if you need to strengthen your words with a vow or an oath, you're actually admitting that your day to day language is not trustworthy.
Jesus would want us to understand that all of life is holy. Whether we are in the temple or the market place, our words should be truthful and binding. If we need to use a vow, then we are actually abusing God's name and we are being manipulative.

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.      (Matthew5:33-37)

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