“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’”

The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’”

Scripture:  Matthew 5:33-37

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’  34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 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 one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply `Yes’ or `No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Meditation: How forceful are honest words! (Job 6:25) Jesus addressed the issue of honesty and truthfulness in one’s conduct and speech.  What does it mean to be true to one’s word? To be true to oneself and to others requires character.  Unfortunately many people today miserably fail here.  No wonder we don’t trust many in positions of leadership and influence.  God is the source of all truth and there is nothing false or deceitful in him. His word is truth and his law is truth. His truth liberates us from illusion, deceit, and hypocrisy.  Jesus told his disciples that the truth will make you free (John 8:32).  Why is it so hard to be true and to speak the truth?  Truth demands commitment — that we live our lives according to it and be faithful witnesses of the truth.  Jesus teaches his disciples the unconditional love of truth.  He speaks against bearing false witness and all forms of untruthfulness and swearing unnecessary oaths to God.  A disciple’s word should be capable of being trusted without verbal rituals to give it validity.   Christ’s disciple must speak truthfully without “stretching” the truth by adding to it or by compromising the truth by speaking untruth or by leaving out what is necessary to convey what is truthful. Thomas Aquinas said: People could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another. ..(In justice) as a matter of honor, one person owes it to another to manifest the truth. Are you true — to God, to yourself, and to others? And do you allow God’s word of truth to penetrate your mind and heart and to form your conscience?

“Set a watch, Lord, upon my tongue, that I may never speak the cruel word which is not true; or being true, is not the whole truth; or being wholly true, is merciless; for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.”