It May Be Time To Re-Evaluate Your Comitments
I'm sure you are familiar with the image below. Someone is about to be "sworn in." They are making an oath, before God and man, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. With this commitment comes a sense of responsibility. And if someone failed to honor it, there could be serious consequences. Hence, for the most part, good people tell the truth.
But the thing is, the people who tell the truth under oath would tell the truth even if there was no Bible present. Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, was making that point when He talked about not taking oaths. He wasn't saying it was a sin to be sworn in at a trial or recite marriage vows. Instead, He was simply saying, "My people keep their commitments. If they say they will do it, they do it. If they say they will not do it, they don't. No official ceremonies or consequence ridden contracts needed."
While it was not the focus of the episode from Monday, I did want to start by reminding everyone of some simple Christian principles: Christians are honest. We tell the truth; we do what we say we will do; and we make sacrifices to come through on our commitments. Not because of some binding civil oath (at least not just because of those things), but because Jesus is our King, we are Christians, and that's exactly what He would do, and did.
However, I'm concerned that good people may take this too far. You might say, "how can integrity and keeping your word ever go too far?" I'm glad you asked. Let's dig in on that.
Have you ever made a wrong commitment? In other words, is it possible to give your word on something that you should not have? Of course it is. Maybe someone commits to a life of sin. Maybe someone commits to an unlawful marriage. Maybe someone commits to a job that is destroying their faith. Maybe someone makes an oath out of anger! I have decided to do something in a moment or in a way that was wrong. Haven't you? So now what do we do?
Is it okay to break my word? Yes! Let me be clearer on this point: YES! If I have made any of the commitments in the paragraph above, even if in public, even if bound by a contract, or by law, but I know that it is dishonoring God, or holding me in sin... it's time to break my word! Now this may just sound wrong to a great many people. They might say, "I thought Jesus said that Christians kept their word?" He did. But not if they made foolish proclamations. If someone committed to Judaism, Jesus wouldn't say, "well, it's just important that you keep your vow and honor that until the end." No. He'd say, "That was foolish. Walk away from that and make firm determinations that are right. Hold to those.
How do I know if my word needs to be broken?Oooh, now this is a good question. If people think the answer is: "when you don't feel good about it anymore," that would be wrong. People can't leave a job or a marriage or a church or a struggle just because it isn't fun or fulfilling. So please don't use even a syllable of this blog to support foolishness like that. Commitments can be hard, often are hard, and require difficult travel and sacrifices. The question is: "is it worth it?" If I am laboring to honor an ungodly commitment, I am a fool. If I am working to honor a vow that was approved by God, it is worth all the effort to honor Him.
For more help answering this crucial question, consider our podcast from this week. We examined the oath Jews took in Acts 23. The called it a "solemn oath," to not eat until they had killed Paul. But it was ungodly. It dishonored God even by existing. Later, Paul's nephew called it a "curse" and he was right. You break curses, don't you? Well, they should have. I'm guessing they did, by the way, since Paul didn't die for ten more years!
Interestingly, and something we didn't discuss in the podcast, but Paul made a commitment years earlier to arrest and imprison Christians in Damascus. Jesus appeared to him and exposed the foolishness of his vow. Paul was wise enough to forsake it immediately in the name of Jesus and start new journeys in Christ, worth dying to honor.
So, evaluate your commitments. Firstly, determine if you are the kind of person who will keep your word when God expects you to. Secondly, evaluate if the things you claim to be keeping to be honorable, are actually honorable even when kept. Thirdly, make some changes, break some curses, but always do it in the name of, and to honor, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for supporting our program. If you believe this blog can help someone you care about, be sure and click a link on the right to share it on social media or email to friends. Have an amazing weekend! And always remember: whatever you choose to do today in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, excel still more.