February 6

Text: Matthew 5:33, 34, 37

"Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God . . .  But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; and anything beyond these is of evil. (NASB)

“Stop beating around the bush!  Be straight with me!”  Or, “Stop evading me with your words!  Tell me the truth in words I understand!”  Years ago I lived in a culture that did not know tactful speech, and therefore did not practice tact.  Our attempts to be tactful were considered lies.   (In our culture we practice “sensitive” speech as an attempt to be truthful without being blunt and thus offensive.)

If a person ate too much, others were told before he/she arrived that he/she ate too much. Or stayed too long, or took advantage of people, or was lazy, etc.  Thus they did not understand when we said that incoming missionaries were “good people” though the incoming people had obvious faults.  If they were bluntly told the incoming people’s faults, they would not be surprised by failed expectations.

Being truthful is a complicated task!  Neither tact nor bluntness is the remedy for deception!  Jesus addressed people who did not receive written guarantees.  They relied on a system of verbal vows.  Both guarantees and vows share a common problem.  They exist because some people deceive.  Thus guarantees and vows provide deceivers another avenue for practicing deception.

What is the solution for ending deception?  The solution: each person practices truthfulness!  Can any external demand force all people to end deception?  No!  Deceptiveness declines as people’s internal standards motivate them to be truthful.

Righteous people mean yes or no when they say yes or no—they are dependable!

Suggestion for reflection: Mean what you say—be dependable.  (Read Isaiah 1:16, 17.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell