Sermon on the Mount: Honesty

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” ~Matthew 5

What good

Can the tongue bring?

That thing

Set ablaze with fire?

Mysteries

Perhaps it wields

Wickedness

It surely reveals

The heart

It is desperately evil

I boast of it

Every day

When things are easy

I promise it

And when it’s time

I struggle to obey

.

I remember Jephthah

A mighty man of God

Chosen to lead

Israel in battle

But he didn’t fully trust

God would help him through

So he easily made a vow

To sacrifice what came out

Of his home on his victorious return

And what should it be?

His only child

His only daughter

And he was bound to obey

His tongue had shackled him

To obey

.

If you make a vow

To God

Keep it

But is better not to do at all

Be honest in all you say

And you won’t be condemned

On that last day

Surely we will have to give an account

Even for the empty words we said

Can you remember any of those words

You said? I can’t.

Fall at God’s feet for mercy

Yearn for the good fruit of truth

And say only what you mean

For by it you will be acquitted

Speak always as to the Lord.

Speak always as to the Lord.

~

“12Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.” ~James 5

.

33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~Matthew 12

.

“5Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” ~James 3

.

“21If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” ~Deuteronomy 23

.

“29Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’

“32Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

“34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.’

36’My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.’

38”’You may go,’ he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.” ~Judges 11

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