Sermon on the Mount: Oaths
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:33-37 ESV)
Journal: This verse always reminds me of a scene from Jerry McGuire. Jerry, the sports agent, asks an up-and-coming football star to sign a contract with him to make it official that he is taking Jerry as his agent. The dad says he doesn’t wish to sign a contract but offers his hand and says, “You have my word, and it’s as strong as oak.” As the movie goes, the father breaks his oath shortly thereafter. This verse tells us first that we should not use God’s name in vain in order to strengthen the magnitude of a promise. Aside from it being a disrespectful act towards God, it is also unnecessary because our word should mean something. If we promise to do something, it should be done if within our power. If we declare something as true, it better be true to the absolute best of our knowledge. If we say yes or no to a thing, we should be so strong of character that these decisions and pronouncements carry the weight of our character. The obvious verses address divorce in this manner, A promise has been made, so it should be kept completely if it is at all in our power and ability to do so.
Matthew Henry writes, “Perjury is a sin condemned by the light of nature, as a complication of impiety toward God and injustice toward man, and as rendering a man highly obnoxious to the divine wrath, which was always judged to follow so infallibly upon that sin, that the forms of swearing were commonly turned into execrations or imprecations; as that, God do so to me, and more also; and with us, So help me God; wishing I may never have any help from God, if I swear falsely. Thus, by the consent of nations, have men cursed themselves, not doubting but that God would curse them, if they lied against the truth then, when they solemnly called God to witness to it.”