Have you ever taken an oath? Have you had to promise to carry out a mission? Have you sworn to testify or to keep a secret? Have you been able to live up to the oath? Have you thought you should not have sworn an oath afterward?
We make promises and swear oaths for a variety of reasons. We are sworn in to the military and political offices. We are sworn to tell the truth when we testify in court. We make promises to do something at work, with our families, and even to ourselves.
Jesus warns us not to make an oath. He says we are not to swear by anyone or anything. Why? He knows just how fickle we are. He knows we want to do many things but often lack the will, ability, or resources to do them. He knows we will fail as often or more than we succeed.
This is not to say we should refuse to tell the truth in a court of law. We should abide by the laws of the land. It is not to say that we refuse to take an oath when joining the military or taking a political office. Those are required by our customs to serve.
The bigger issue is the voluntary oaths and promises. Take a few moments to think about the promises you have made and failed to keep. Think about the oaths or vows you have spoken and have been unable to see through to the end. We all have them. Some of them we prefer to forget. Others bring up feelings of regret. Jesus tells us not to make them to avoid feeling guilty when we fail. We would be wise to listen to His guidance.
I pray we all think carefully before making an oath, promise, or vow. I pray we forgo swearing to do something whenever possible. I pray each one of us seek to be a person of our word rather than needing to swear by someone or something larger than us. Do not voluntarily swear an oath. Stop making promises. Be extremely careful making vows. Be a person who can be trusted. Be a person of your word. Be trustworthy.
Matthew 5:33-35 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.”