Honesty (By David Peterson)
As part of His “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus says this about honesty:
“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, take no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.”
Jesus quotes Leviticus in this passage about the importance of being honest and avoiding careless use of promises. Jesus implores us to speak the truth in all our speech.
Professing an oath is unnecessary according to Pastor John MacArthur who once wrote: “Jesus nor James prohibits swearing oaths under special circumstances. But under normal circumstances they are superfluous for the believer, who is marked by honesty.”
Honesty should prevail in all of our interactions with others. Christian hymn writer John Henry Sammis wrote “Trust and Obey” in 1887. The first stanza goes: “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.”
If honesty is truthfulness, Sammis’ hymn captures the idea that God wants us to be honest and when we are He shines His light on us.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach us to be honest, with ourselves, with others, and with you especially. Show us how to live our lives where our yes means yes and our no means no.