LET YOUR “YES” BE “YES” AND YOUR “NO” BE “NO”
Matthew 5: 33-37
A month or so ago in the news a senator from Chicago was facing corruption charges and he spent the weekend huddling with his lawyers preparing for his grand jury testimony. As I saw that I thought it was a little odd. If your goal in going before the grand jury is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, why does it take hours and hours to prepare for that?
Now it would be foolish to think that lawyers and politicians are the only people who like to play games with the truth.
What about us? As God’s people do we have a problem just being honest?
Let’s look at this passage that was read because Jesus is going to deal with this very thing.
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (most Americans…Lawyers and Politicians), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Well, Jesus gives us 7 examples to help us understand what we need to do to exceed the scribes and Pharisees in righteousness…
Now, we have already covered the first three examples or situations…
The Pharisees then would say, “We haven’t committed adultery…we have kept the letter of the law…but Jesus would say, “Keep the spirit of the law…Don’t even lust after a woman that way!”
And the Pharisees would say, “I gave my wife a certificate of divorce…we have kept the letter of the law….and Jesus says, “Stop making your marriage so cheap! Concentrate on making your marriages work instead of justifying reasons to dissolve them! Keep the spirit of the law.
Now we come to the 4th example…look again at verse 33:
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
Now, when you look at this it is not hard to see what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.
“You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.”
Here is another passage that shows you what they were doing. This is Matthew 23: 16-18. Jesus says:
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.’
Now, go back to Matthew 5. Look at what Jesus says in vs. 34: “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Here is what Jesus is saying to them?
Look again at Matthew 23:19: “You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 “And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
But Jesus goes farther than that. In fact, He is going to get to the literal “heart of the matter”. Look back in Matthew 5 at the beginning of verse 34, where Jesus says, “…make no oath at all.”
In fact, look at verse 37:
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.
For example, let me show you some things we do to get out of keeping our promises:
“Anita, I am going to take you Houston as soon as school is out.”
Or I tell Anita that I am going to take her to Houston…but I have justification for not doing what I said I would because I have my fingers crossed.
And let me tell you another popular excuse that is used for not keeping our word today.
Jesus says, “Don’t play word games…don’t use technicalities to void or affirm your promises.
Let me mention one more…this is one I ran across just last week. I was talking with a funeral director and I asked him, “What do you do when people won’t pay? After all, you can’t repossess the casket?
Some of you have had this done to you…and it may be that some here this morning have done this to others.
Look at verse 37 again and notice specifically the last part of the verse. Jesus says, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.
The reason He says this is because the need to swear by something…or to make an oath…comes from our untruthfulness…our dishonesty.
Jesus is saying here that we are to “Let our statement be “yes, yes” or “No, no”…and be so trustworthy that we don’t need to swear on anything.
A bunch of politicians were traveling down the road in an old bus…when they ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Well, an old farmer that was working in his field ran over to see what happened…and after he checked on the politicians he got his shovel and buried them. A few days later the sheriff came out and the farmer told him what had happened. The Sheriff asked him, “Did the coroner come out? Are you sure they were all dead?” The old farmer said, “Well, some of them said they were still alive but you know how them politicians lie!”
Sadly, some people have a reputation for not being honest…for not meaning what they say…but it must not be that way for us as a child of God because Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes, and the Pharisees…you shall not enter the kingdom of God.
If you need to repent…you can’t change the past…but you can start today.
Some may have done this…not only do you need to repent….but you also need Christ because in Him and through Him you can be forgiven.