Speaking Truth and Getting Rid of Promises

1195548_76079122On Sunday we looked at Jesus’ teaching on oaths, vows, and promises in Matthew 5:33-37.  In this teaching Jesus teaches people not to swear oaths by anything earth, God, Jerusalem, or heaven. He summarizes his teaching with saying, just let your yes be yes and your no be no.

And here is why I think if you have to add an oath, a vow, a provision, or an extra promise to something, it points to the fact that trust is low. Dallas Willard puts it this way, “The essence of swearing or making oaths is to try to use something that, though impressive, is irrelevant to the issues at hand to together to believe you and let you have your way. This is wrong. It is unlike God”. And he is so right. The NLT translates the last few sentences of Jesus’ teaching this way, “Just say a simple Yes I will, or No I won’t. Your word is enough. To strengthen our promise with a vow shows that something is  wrong”

I think Jesus’ teaching comes down to the point that we need to be people of truth. That as his followers we need to be committed to truth – getting rid of all lies, oaths, vows, and half-truths. Just let every word you speak be truthful.

So we ended with the challenge to be people who speak truth this week. And to help that happen I gave three suggestions.

First, we need to confess to God our sin. This seems a bit counterintuitive but the point is that unless we are truthful with God we will not be able to be truthful with others. Bonhoeffer puts it this way, “Complete truthfulness is only possible where sin has be uncovered and forgiven by Jesus. Only those who are in a state of truthfulness through the confession for their sin to Jesus are not ashamed to tell the truth wherever it must be told”.

Secondly, we talked about needing to speak truth all the time. What this means is that everything I say needs to be true, but I don’t have to say everything that is true. I don’t need to reveal everything I think is true, in every situation. I can have tact, and discernment, but everything I do say or reveal needs to be true. This is our calling as Christians.

And lastly, that we need to speak truth softly. Whenever we use our words as a weapon to hurt, injure, or wound we’ve missed the point. Jesus previously in this chapter has already taught us to rid ourselves of anger. So any words that are spoken without compassion, is just veiled aggression and isn’t to be part of the kingdom. Stanley  Hauerwas puts it this way: “Christians are thereby, committed to plain speech. We seek to say no more or no less than what needs to be said. Speech so disciplined is not easily attained. Too often we want to use the gift of speech as a weapon, often a very subtle weapon, to establish our superiority” .

So we ended with a challenge to be people of truth. To confess to God, to speak truth to others, and to speak it softly. This is so important because if we want to have churches, marriages, and communities that are stable, healthy and whole, they need to be built on truth and trust. So go be a person of truth today…

“There is not truth toward Jesus without truth towards other people. Lying destroys community. But truth rends false community and founds genuine fellowship”.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Be a person of Integrity

Take Aways…

  • What if we actually did what Jesus said?
  • “The only proper response to this word which Jesus brings with him from eternity is simply to do it” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Old Testament verses point to being people of truth
  • People swear oaths because of a lack of trust
  • The essence of swearing or making oaths is to try to use something that, though impressive, is irrelevant to the issues at hand to together to believe you and let you have your way. This is wrong. It is unlike God. Dallas Willard
  • “Just say a simple Yes I will, or No I won’t. You’re word is enough. To strength our promise with a vow shows that something is wrong” – Jesus
  • Thus disciples of Jesus should not swear, because there is no such thing as speech not spoken before God. All of their words should be nothing but truth, so that nothing requires verification by oath. An oath consigns all other statements to the darkness of doubt. That is why it is from the evil one. Bonhoeffer
  • Speak with truth
  • Confess your sin, to be able to speak with truth
  • Complete truthfulness is only possible where sin has be uncovered and forgiven by Jesus. Only those who are in a state of truthfulness through the confession for their sin to Jesus are not ashamed to tell the truth wherever it must be told”.
  • Everything I say needs to be true But I don’t have to say everything that is true
  • “Christians are thereby, committed to plain speech. We seek to say no more or no less than what needs to be said. Speech so disciplined is not easily attained. Too often we want to use the gift of speech as a weapon, often a very subtle weapon, to establish our superiority” Hauerwas
  • “There is not truth toward Jesus without truth towards other people. Lying destroys community. But truth rends false community and founds genuine fellowship” Bonhoeffer

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

How do you use your words? Would you say you use them to build up or tear down? How thoughtfully or intentionally do you use your words? How can you this week start to become a person of deeper integrity? Who can help to support you and keep you accountable in being truthful and honest.

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about being a person of truth. Tell them why it matters in your own words. Maybe take a moment and promise to them that you will always speak to them with truth, and ask if they would do the same with you.

Challenge for this Week: Speak with truth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s