In this excerpt from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is condemning
the practice of making oaths. All of us have, at times, tried to
buttress our words with external claims like, "I swear," or, "No, I
really mean it," or, "I swear to God." You get the idea. And what
Jesus is saying is that this is actually a fairly dangerous
spiritual practice. Why? Jesus holds his followers to a high
standard for behavior and he wants everyone to be certain of one
thing when they are speaking with one of his disciples; that they
are telling the truth. What does it say about other claims we have
made if we add oaths to some comments but not to others? It causes
all our claims to become questionable. But there is more.
As Jesus' disciples we are supposed to be truth tellers...always.
One of our primary tasks is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus
Christ and how can we do that with integrity if lied about eating
the last donut in the workroom or massaged the truth to escape
trouble at home or some such thing? If our words are out of sync
with our actions then so too will any proclamation we offer be out
of sync with the work of Jesus Christ. Truth telling is a vital
Christian practice and it is this practice that Jesus is attempting
to reclaim and rebuild. So, if you are still looking for a lenten
discipline try simply telling the truth for 40 days. All of us could
get better at that one.
Prayer: Holy God, you always speak the truth. Help me to
do the same. I want to be honest in all my relationships so I can
testify to your greatness with integrity. I pray in the name of
Jesus Christ. Amen.
[text from file received from Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian