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Say What You Mean - Matthew 5:33-37

"The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author."

“I have seen your Epitaph…Believe on Jesus, and get a feeling possession of God in your heart, and you cannot possibly be disappointed of your second edition finally corrected, and infinitely amended.”

Consider that a recent poll found that 63% of Americans said religion was somewhat or very important in their lives. But over half of them who said that do not go to religious services more than once a year. And this is actually truer of older conservatives than younger people.

In today’s passage we are going to see Jesus command His disciples to say what they mean and do what they say without making excuses.

Read Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus didn’t want His disciples to be like the Pharisees, who obeyed outwardly but didn’t have real relationship with God. They had even added silly loopholes to commands, setting aside the “spirit” of full obedience.

Jesus brings two commands together - V. 33

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. - Ex. 20:16

If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. - Numbers 30:2 (see also Deut. 23:21)

Notice there it speaks of two things: an oath made with the Lord, and bringing God into YOUR oath with somebody else.

One thing I told you a few weeks ago is that sometimes in the Old Testament God regulated what he didn’t endorse, and I think that applies to flippantly bringing God into YOUR vows with others.

Don’t misuse God’s name when making promises to others - V. 34-36

The leaders in Jesus’ day didn’t want to blaspheme, but they did want to leave themselves wiggle room to break their word. And so they said it was okay to swear by lesser things. Jesus rejects all that as sinful duplicity.

What Jesus was forbidding here was duplicity – especially religious duplicity – using God or things of God as an excuse.

Just say what you mean and do what you promised! - V. 37

The precept in this passage is keep your word; the principle is people need to be able to count on you to have healthy relationships; The person is that we can count on God to keep every promise He has made!

How to make good decisions (Informed ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’):
1. All important decisions should invoke a 1-day waiting rule, particularly those that involve a lot of money.
2. Pray about every important decision.
3. Analyze your decision with scripture.
4. Grow close enough to God that you heed Holy Spirit ‘red flag’ warnings.
5. Seek godly counsel rather than making decisions in isolation.

Keeping our word is the default setting of believers – but there are times you do need to break your word, especially when God is convicting you about something you never should have said yes to.  In those cases you may want to talk with a strong believer about the best strategy going forward.

Did you catch what Jesus said at the end of verse 37? – Not keeping your commitment is evil.