Thursday, July 14, 2005

Let Your Yes be Yes - Our Words and Our Discipleship

I really would like to begin a point by point outline of the Sermon on the Mount but what is really on my mind and heart is Jesus’ saying in Matthew 5 vs 32-37:

33"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.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

This passage is stunning in its weight and has brought me low. Jesus is saying, ‘do not add value to your words by attaching them to something of value. Instead, let your words stand on their own. Know this, if you need to or even attempt to add value to your words by attaching them to something holy this is evil.” What a strange custom that we do this swearing ritual.

“I swear on a stack of bibles”
“As God is my witness, blah blah blah”

We do this as a negotiation tactic. We do this to make our words believable because we have so many words spoken in our day that are just, well how do we say, about as valuable as male cow dung. Instead, let’s take a different approach to our words. Let our words be few. Let our words though few be weighty and valuable.

“That man’s words are gold”
“If he says he will do something, you can take it to the bank.”
Our words are to be backed by the full power of our integrity.

“If a man does not bridle his tongue, his religion is worthless”
"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment”

But this is not the story of the people of God in our day…
No one in all my years of Christianity has ever discipled me in the practice of quite. No man has taken me aside and said, “My son, you are new to the spiritual way of life. If you are to understand holiness, you must learn to let your words be few and let them always be weighty and true. A man’s words are to be careful and thoughtful. Learn to speak with words that are never angry or haughty or arrogant but instead always kind and wise.”

In the real world, men are constantly politicking and positioning themselves to protect themselves and increase their power within their social and economic worlds. To do this self promoting work, we use our words. To achieve our ends, we sacrifice our integrity and the honor of our words. To be followers of Jesus, we must not be like the world in how we build up self with our words and our boasts.

To be a follower of Jesus our entire perspective on how we speak and why we speak must experience a conversion. Our words are to reflect the truth and to be used to communicate the truth humbly. Never are our words to be used to deceive or to manipulate. Such a transformation of our speech is central to the life of a follower of Jesus.

God Bless,

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