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Text Box: Your Yes’ & No’s Are Sufficient


Text Box:  
(Matthew 5:33-37 NIV)  Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'  But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
(Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 GWT)  When you make a promise to God, don't be slow to keep it because God doesn't like fools. Keep your promise.  It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not keep it.  Don't let your mouth talk you into committing a sin. Don't say in the presence of a temple messenger, "My promise was a mistake!" Why should God become angry at your excuse and destroy what you've accomplished?
(Deuteronomy 23:21-23 NIV)  If 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.  But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty.  Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.

Text Box: To deepen and strengthen our everyday relationships we rely on the sanctity (purity) of our speech.  This kind of speech is honest, trustworthy and healing (Proverbs 16:23, 24; 25:11-15; 29:11). It communicates truth, care and peace.  This kind of speech has its origin in a pure heart.  Only a person who is pure in heart can understand the impact pure speech has on relationships and the making of vows (oaths).  
“Oaths taken in the name of the Lord were binding, and perjury was strongly condemned in the law (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Deuteronomy 19:16-19). Every oath contained an affirmation or promise and an appeal to God as the omniscient punisher of falsehoods, which made the oath binding. Thus we find phrases like “as the Lord lives” (1 Samuel 14:39). The emphasis on the sanctity of oaths led to the feeling that ordinary phrasing need not be truthful or binding. Jesus, however, taught (Matthew 5:37) that we should say and mean yes or no and never equivocate.” —Ryrie Study Bible
(Ephesians 4:22-25 NIV)  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Evidence of the corruption of our flesh is speaking falsehood. Attempting to prove or give worth to our statements by oaths or by the frequent use of hyperbole (look this word up in a dictionary) can be evidence that we lack trust and confidence in ourselves, and that our words and person lack value.
Not only is the encouragement from Jesus to say what we mean, but to also mean what we say and to fulfill what we promise; as well as being able to promise what we can fulfill.  Jesus also points out that we should not involve God in our promise, since our thoughts are not God’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8, 9).  He tells us that we cannot even make a hair on our head black or white, how much more able are we, then, to promise or verify any other truth?  Just say what you mean and mean what you say.  Fulfill what you promise and promise what you can fulfill. Anything beyond being able to say “yes” or “no” has its inception in sin (Proverbs 10:19). 

In His Footsteps © 1998                                                    



Text Box: Your Yes’ & No’s Are Sufficient





Look up swear in a good dictionary.  The swearing we are going to discuss is not “cursing” or “curses”, it has to do with making affirmations.  Also look up oath.  In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus refers to the common practice of taking oaths or swearing as a means of verifying one’s words as being true by appealing to sacred persons or things as proof of honesty.  Read Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:2-5.  As you can see from these passages, oaths were very common among the Jews in the Old Testament.  Were they encouraged to make many vows?  Were they encouraged to delay fulfilling a vow or promise?  Read Exodus 20:7.  What does this passage teach in light of vow-making?  Is it forbidden to use God’s name, or to misuse it?  Read Leviticus 19:12; Deuteronomy 19:16-19 and Zechariah 8:17.  How does the Lord feel about lying, misrepresenting yourself or appearing to be something or someone you are not?  Are we only to be truthful when we are “sworn in” (making an oath)?  Should a Christian’s speech be reliable and trustworthy only in the form of a legal contract or vow? Should we need to swear to affirm the validity of what we say? 



Do you usually fly off the handle when you perceive lack of trust?  Are you into giving people the benefit of the doubt?  Read Proverbs 29:11.  Detail how it could be possible for a person training in righteousness to be fully in control of a situation while a foolish person is totally loosing it.  Does the foolish person think about himself or about the other person’s situation?  Does the wise man put himself in the other person’s shoes or does he think about how he was wronged or how he lost out?  Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-3.  Contrast the wise man and the fool in this passage.  Can you really trust or rely on those who talk a good game?  If you talk more than you walk, what can you do to correct that?  Read Proverbs 10:19-21.  What happens when you talk too much? Read James 1:19.  What should you be quick to do in any situation?  What should you be slow to do?  If you’re quick to vent your anger or frustrations, where does that leave you in light of these passages?  Is it possible for you to be quick to make a vow that you will later regret, or perhaps a promise you cannot keep, if you are in this state of mind?  Maybe that’s why we usually wait until someone is in good spirits to get their approval on something, right?  We know that emotions can sometimes affect our “honesty”.  Should this be? Meditate on Proverbs 12:17-19, 22.



What is your word worth to others? Can other’s count on you? Do you deliver? What value can you offer in a relationship? Read Proverbs 10:20, 21.  Do others consider your tongue “silver”?  What do you think the writer of this proverb means by that?  Are your lips nourishing?  Read Proverbs 16:23, 24; 25:11-15; 29:11.  From these verses prepare a list with two columns.  In one column write down the attributes of the “silver” tongue.  In the other column write down the opposite of these characteristics, and label that column, the “rotten” tongue.  Read James 3:1-12.  To what two things is the tongue (speech) compared to in verses 3 and 4?  Can you think why James uses these two analogies when illustrating the power of speech?  Has your tongue ever gotten you in trouble?  Has it made some great boast that has left you stinging, like with a fire (verse 5)?  Would you dare curse God?  Why then do you dare curse those made in His image (verse 9)?  Isn’t that boasting?  What about cursing?  Do you still have a problem controlling your cursing tongue?  Does offensive speech or cursing necessitate foul language (curse words)?  Just because you don’t use “curse words” doesn’t mean your speech is pure!  Be careful! God judges your motives and your attitudes (Hebrews 4:12, 13)! Snide remarks, spiteful speech and coarse joking is offensive speech.



Part of controlling your speech and purifying your character has to do with being able to say what you mean and mean what you say when you are asked to do or be something. Can you say “yes” or “no”, or do you find yourself needing to “yes” everyone?  Do you find it hard to admit you are wrong?  Do you feel you always need to be right in the eyes of others?  Is it hard for you to say “no” to someone?  All these things are part of the reputation our tongues build for our character.  Read Ephesians 4:25, 29; Romans 12:17.  What must you put off permanently?  Would a body work if each part gave the other false information?  What is unwholesome talk (verse 31 lists things that can result in unwholesome talk)?  Do you talk to others mostly of yourself and your things?  What percentage of your daily talk is about heavenly things and our relationship with God?  Here’s a challenge: Take one day of the week to log every conversation you have with everyone that day.  Determine the percentage of your speech devoted to benefiting and edifying others according to their needs.



Read Colossians 4:5, 6.  Name some opportunities God gives you throughout the day to use your tongue to deliver grace and Good News.  Do you take advantage of these opportunities, or do you find yourself not opening your mouth that often?  The way you speak to those around you at work, or in the world shows the integrity of your character.  Do you think people will be more willing to approach you if you are always so hard on yourself and on them? Do people tend to feel attracted to those who suffer from insecurities or are self-condemning?  Your speech will betray you.  What are some ways you can make your conversation be full of grace?  Would people feel comfortable getting to know you if you are known to be a graceful person?  Can you get away with saying, “That’s just not me, I can’t learn to talk like that or be a more graceful person.”?


Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. James 5:12b


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