All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
In the passage of Matthew 5:33-37, we see a portion of Jesus’s preaching to the the people on oaths. Do not swear at all [Matthew 5:34] is the emphasis of this passage, do not swear by anything at all, and here we look into a deeper aspect of the nature of our verbal words. Spoken words. The apostle James also revisited this topic through his teachings in James 5:12 – Above 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. In today’s study, using the context of oaths as a starting point, we will look at Matthew 5:37 and look into the importance of our spoken words. While our focus will not be on oaths, it is important to bear in mind the context of this verse.
All you need to say is simply – I love how blatantly straightforward Jesus had set out to make this sound. It is simple. It is not hard to understand. We can’t feign ignorance. We can’t pretend that we do not understand. And it is truthfully not that hard. It doesn’t require a lot of effort. Because all that we’re asked to do when we speak, is that we speak it as it is. That’s all. Nothing else. Sometimes things are simpler than we humans want to believe. We don’t have to complicate matters. I would like to think that God is complex, but not complicated. The path to God is straightforward, and blatantly written in the Bible for us.
‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – It is very straightforward when it comes to words, actually. If it is, it is. If it isn’t, it isn’t. If it is white, it’s white. If it is black, it’s black. There is no ‘I don’t know…” or “Maybe not…” or “it’s grey” in this. We humans love grey areas. We love it when things aren’t very clearly stated, and we snatch every loophole that we can find and get away with whatever we can, often pushing the limits of law, of patience, of morality. Sometimes, all we need to do is to have that little bit of courage and put our foot down and say, no, this is wrong. Sometimes, all we need is that little bit of self-awareness to check ourselves and say, yes, I’ve done wrong. If you are to affirm, do so with a simple ‘yes’ – nakedly, absolutely, simply, without oath and without buts. The same goes for denying – just say ‘no’.
anything beyond this comes from the evil one – If you say things as they are – if it’s a yes, and you say yes; and if it’s a no and you say no; then these words are from God. But anything else belongs to the evil one. Everything else comes from the devil. Blatant lies, grey areas – basically anything that is not the whole truth and just the truth – these come from the evil one. We sometimes like to console ourselves by thinking that some thoughts come from within, they come from ourselves. No – if they are what they are, then these come from God. If they are not what we say they are, then they come from the evil one. We are not the grey area between God and the devil. We cannot compromise ourselves by allowing the evil one to have a hold on us. There’s no standing on the fence here. If you are for God, stand to this side, and act like it. If you are not for God, then you are for the evil one.
Jesus preached this in the context of oaths, and how we really do not need and should not be swearing just to convince ourselves or others. We should not be swearing just to force ourselves to comply to our promises. Instead, we just need to say it as it is, and let no oaths be involved. Making an oath – swearing by something – is not simply a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ thing. By invoking the need to swear, we complicate our words and the things that our words represent. Even if it’s not crude or vulgar, as swearing often becomes, it is complicated. This complication is redundant and is often only useful in blurring the focus of what it actually is. The ‘yes’ gets lost somewhere when our focus instead shifts to what is sworn upon. Effectively, swearing does not come from God. God does not swear.
If it’s a yes, let us say yes. If it’s a no, let us say no. If it’s an apple, let us call it an apple. If we need to pay 500, let us say 500. If you are late, admit it. In all things, let our ‘yes’es be yes and our ‘no’s be no.