Sermon on the Mount: Reliable Words
Text: Matthew 5:33-37
Sermon: Reliable Words
Date: July 22, 2012
Listen to audio: July 22, 2012
Summary: It’s hard to convince someone that you are telling the truth when they are skeptical. In order to be more convincing, we often come up with formulas that are intended to convince others that we are telling the truth. We say things like, “I promise,” “I’m telling the truth,” “scout’s honor,” or even “I swear.”
Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 help us understand that having credibility with someone else is not a matter of understanding the right forulas for convincing others that you are telling the truth, but rather a product of your integrity. If you want others to believe you, practice telling the truth.
Scripture Reading: “Again, ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one. “(Matthew 5:33-37 ASV)
Have you every spoke words of truth and people didn’t believe you? How can you let the people around you know that your words are trustworthy? How do you react when people don’t believe you?
The problems in the days of Jesus are not so different than are own? Jesus addresses the ideas of personal oaths and the words we use to get people to believe us. When Jesus addressed these concerns it is to people that are liars and shade the truth.
We live in a culture where we expect to be deceived? We live in a culture where we are no longer appalled at lying, but celebrate those that are able to skillfully pull it off.
Jesus is calling us to integrity and new character, to stand on our character as truth sayers. Jesus is not just speaking of the words we speak to guarantee our integrity, he is addressing the need to promise at all. In the world that God originally created lying was not part of it. Doubt, deception, promises, and swearing, are vows that point to a deeper cultural infection. To live beyond the oath taking, and linguistic tricky to captivate the hearer to believing that what you have to say is true. The need to make oaths and promises points to a deeper reality that ones words may not be trustworthy and may indeed need to be dressed up in order impress.
Jesus’ Teaching Offers:
1. Penetrating insight
Jesus teaches that the way one lives should be the real solution to ones character, not the cloak of vows and promises. Act according to the way you speak and you don’t have to qualify what you say.
2. A whole new way of being human
Greg would go home everyday and write a poem. To see him on any given day, you had no idea he wrote poetry, it was tucked away and it seeped out once in a while. In the sermon on the mount Jesus has said that if you want to be his follower you must not let your anger get you into sin, if you want to be a follower of Jesus you must avoid lust like the plague, if you want to be a follower of Jesus you must let your words speak the truth simply. If you regularly have to prove the sincerity of your words you must ask yourself whether your character is in need of repair.
If you are looking to an example of what it means to live a life of integrity we can look to the Christ as the model of what integrity in words means. “let your yes be yes, and no be no.”