“One Year Bible” New Testament Passage
But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No.” For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:37 (NKJV)
We live is a world full of words. All kinds of words. We are at times word-weary and dulled by the mass of verbal messages. I am afraid that this has produced an epidemic of cynicism. It seems that we are always being sold a “bill of goods.” As a result, we often learn not to trust what anyone says to us.
I love the commentary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on today’s passage in the Sermon on the Mount. He wrote in his classic The Cost of Discipleship about Jesus instructions to us about oaths and the value of our words. Bonhoeffer notes that anytime we promise or vow concerning something, we are actually hinting that we might be a liar! In other words, why do we have to PROMISE? Why do we have to say, “NOW I’M TELLING YOU THE TRUTH?” Why do we need to swear? It is because we don’t have enought respect for our simple “yes” or “no.”
If I tell you I will do something, isn’t my flat statement enough? Unfortunately, it too often is not. There was a day that a major business deal could have been sealed with a hand-shake. Now we no longer are accustomed to such integrity, so we require witnesses and notaries and courthouse filings, etc. etc. etc.
Jesus said “Keep it simple.” Let your words be simple and stick by them. If you say “yes”, that should be enough. If you say “no”, that too should be enough. Anything beyond this is an indicator of the possibility of lies (and the prince of liars — the evil one).
Once again, we find that the way of Jesus is the simplest, best, and most beautiful way to live.