April 15, 2009

Honesty and truthfulness

Truth seems to be hard to come by these days. Spin has spread out from the political world to infect the entirety of our lives. Bill Clinton taught us all how to parse words to deflect accusations that we actually meant what we said. This "spin" on the truth has even become prevalent in churches. It just seems we can't find a way to tell the truth—even when the matters being discussed are trivial.

Matthew 5:33-37

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

I recently read this passage of scripture from Matthew 5 and was struck with the simplicity of Jesus' demand from us. In essence, Jesus said that we should simply not worry about making oaths to show how very serious we are, but that we should be known for our truthfulness in all matters. When we are known for our truthfulness, no oaths are necessary. Jesus says, "Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”

Jesus goes on to say, “Anything more than this comes from evil.” It seems that Jesus is saying that vowing with an oath shows the exact opposite of what we hope it will show. We think that vowing with an oath shows that we are very serious and we are going to keep our word. But Jesus seems to be saying that if we have to use an oath to show that we're serious, we aren't trustworthy in the first place.

This is something that I need to work on in my own life. And from what I've seen around me, I'm not the only one who needs work in this area. May God fix in the hearts of his people especially that importance of truthfulness and honesty. May our “Yes” be Yes and our “No” be No.


  1. Richard, I am guilty as charged, and by God's grace I'm forgiven and seek to please Him and let my yes be yes, and my no be no. I also realize that if I point a finger at someone else, there are three more pointing back at me, but I'm still going to point a finger, because this is serious when a Christian pastor and well known spokesman on a national level does this. In doing so, he influences many people to follow in his footsteps. I'm referring to Rick Warren and his comments to Larry King about how he "never" once issued a statement of endorsement for prop 8 within the two years it was being promoted, when it is obvious he did issue a statement, to his own congregation, with the promise that he would also be informing other ministers on the matter.

    A statement made a couple weeks/week/or few days prior to the election is not outside that two year time frame:

    More On Rick Warren and Prop 8

  2. I understand how you feel about this, Lynn. I hate to see dishonesty from our church leaders. It is very discouraging. And I think some folks need to fight against it, as you are doing here.

    But I have been convicted more and more recently that I need to look to my own sanctification and stop worrying so much about others. I think I need to stand up against public sin if I am in a position to do so, but otherwise I have many beams that need to be taken out before I worry about someone else's splinters.


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