From: Su Min
My dear children,
To recapitulate, Jesus is teaching his sermon on a mount, on an unnamed hillside by the lake Galilee near Capernaum. The multitude are around him, but he is speaking primarily to his followers, and that includes you and me.
- He has declared the characteristics of the Kingdom citizens: his followers blessed when they are poor in spirit, when they mourn, hunger and thirst after righteousness, and when they are persecuted.
- He has declared the function of the Kingdom citizens: to be salt; to be light
- Within the next section he expands and defines the law that he has come to fulfil, with the spirit of the law for the Kingdom citizens. Murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation & love.
Today we read Matt 5:33-37 and hear Jesus teach us on oaths. "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord'.
Jesus is referring to the law as recorded in the old testament.
Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God Lev 19:12. If you make a vow to the Lord your God, be not slow to pay it Deut 23:21.My Wycliffe commentary tells me that the people of the days were swearing in a certain hierarchy, the upper levels of oaths were more sacred and more likely to be honoured but the lower levels were generously discounted. If they swore by God or by heaven, that was a heavy oath, but if they swore by their head or foot, it was generally accepted that that oath was not of value and may readily be broken.
These set the law that do allow oaths to be made and held that oaths should be upheld. Jesus now says ,"But I tell you do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is God's throne, or by the earth, for it is his foot stool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you can not make even one hair white or black. Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Looking into the spirit of the law, Jesus teaches us that we should live and behave so righteously that our simple word be honoured. Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Very often, the only time we swear is when we are not telling the truth. If we tell the truth there is no need to swear. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
What about swear words? Goodness. Many of us are guilty of this one. The four letter F word and the S word. You may have your very own special swear word. Either the sacred or the profane. In times of pain. In times of shock. In times of anger. Is there an epithet that thunders from your lips? Often it is an ingrained habit. Perhaps learned from the family. Perhaps learned from our friends.
Such swear words do not honour God. Yet, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". (1 John 1:9.)
Let us pray.
Abba, father, thank you for our lesson today.
Father, you know each one of us.
You know when we struggle with swear words.
Father, even as we confess our sins we know you forgive us.
Thank you Father.
Help us so order our lives that our simple word is good enough.
Help us so order our lives that we may glorify you.
In Jesus name. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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