Lenten Devotional 3-11-23

Sermon on the Mount

March 11, 2023

Matthew 5: 33-37

33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Back in the day when I was practicing law witnesses were required to be “sworn in” before they testified by answering the following question affirmatively:

“Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as you shall answer to God on the last great day?”

I once asked a client who was sworn in with that oath what she thought about it.  She said she felt the power of those words. It made her very careful about the answers she gave to the questions she was asked. She wanted her answers to be truthful – as she would answer to God on that last great day. I had another client who simply refused to take the oath. He said that he would “affirm” that he would tell the truth, but he could not swear to it because the Bible forbade it. 

What does Jesus require? That we tell the truth – period. We should not require some kind of divine threat to make us be truthful, trustworthy. The mere fact we are people of God should be enough. That is what my client who refused to “swear” relied on. Any untruthfulness is from the “evil one” which is opposed to God. He was not opposed to God, so he would still be very careful. This is hard stuff for fallible humans. That, again, is Jesus’ point. Perfection is impossible. We need a savior. Happily, Jesus is just that.