33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:33–37, NKJV).”
Citizens of the kingdom of heaven are people of integrity. They keep their word. The Jews had invented ingenious ways to circumvent honesty while still claiming to be honest. They thought they could swear by the temple and free themselves from their pledge. But, they said an oath made by the temple’s gold obliged one to keep it (Matt. 23:16). Jesus said they were blind fools for making such false oaths (Matt. 26:17, 18-22). It is intriguing and pertinent that today’s passage (that emphasizes the integrity of keeping one’s word) immediately follows Christ’s declaration of the sanctity of marriage (Matt. 5:31-32). The marriage vow is for life (“until death we do part”), and yet too many break their vow and think they are freed from their obligation made to and before God (Matt. 19:6; Rom. 7:2-3). The Christian’s word is trustworthy and dependable in all matters. Playing word games to evade the truth and our moral responsibility makes us no different from the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). Let your word be your bond. People notice, and so does the Lord (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:12; Ps. 15:4).
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33–37, NKJV)
Jesus teaches one’s honesty should be so ironclad that his word is sufficient to settle any matter. “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matt. 5:37). Swearing an oath becomes superfluous to the one whose constant code is the integrity of truth (Matt. 5:33-36). When someone must try to convince you they are telling you “the honest truth,” something is “rotten in Denmark.” “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). A good dose of honesty improves every relationship in your life. Be trustworthy and remember; others know your honesty by your words and the life you live.
1 Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. 2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. 3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. (Psalm 26:1–3, NKJV)
David asks Jehovah to judge him and pronounce sentence over his life. David cites his integrity, faith, and a life lived in God’s truth as guideposts for God’s examination. The psalm continues to describe some specific ways David conducted his life within these parameters. Note that David was not exalting himself; he knew his sins, for God’s mercy and steadfast love (“lovingkindness”), was always before him. The temptation arises to judge and approve ourselves in matters of faith and truth. But, self-judgment does not justify us before the Lord, even when we know nothing against ourselves. “For I know of nothing against myself, yet He who judges me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:4). The Lord will judge us on the last day (2 Cor. 5:10). Will it be a day of glory or tears? With David, let us faithfully live in the hope of God’s redemption. “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me” (Psa. 26:11).
33 Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37, NKJV)
Jesus knows there are people who think what they say is only binding when they give their word with an oath. Without it, they feel at ease to break their word (see Matthew 23:16-22 for examples of this). Such people still exist. Honesty holds little value to them, so they break their word easily and repeatedly. Apparently, they think by emphasizing or exaggerating their honesty they increase their integrity and credibility. So, they swear by God, by heaven, by earth, and by many other things. They assure you they are telling you the truth as they say, “I swear…” For Christians, a simple “yes” or “no” is enough to establish the truthfulness of our words. Jesus said, “more than these is from the evil one.” Be the person whose integrity of heart means your word is your bond. Then, when you speak, others never need to wonder whether you are telling them the truth. (Revised, Sword Tips #320)
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)
The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).
1 Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn;” (1 Kings 2:1–3, NKJV)
This world needs men of faith, integrity and character. The world needs men of God who meet their responsibilities to their families, to their neighbors, and to their God. As King David was about to die, he charged his son Solomon to show himself to be a man by faithfully obeying the law of God. Even so today, God wants men who will not shy away from obeying the Lord’s commands and following His judgments. Men must step up and meet the challenges that life brings – not with the weakness of faithlessness, but with the strength of faith and duty. Be the man God wants you to be; the man God made you to be. “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (Prov. 20:6) When people look at you, do they see a faithful man? That depends on you.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? … 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (Psalm 15:1, 4, NKJV)
There was a time when it was said, “a man’s word is his bond.” This still holds true for the righteous person who dwells in the presence of the Holy One. Even when he discovers that to which he gave his word damages him in some way, he continues to keep his word. The honor of fulfilling one’s word is a matter of personal integrity before God and before men. The honesty of our words does not depend on whether they help us or harm us, but upon the character of our heart. God, who knows our hearts, honors honest-hearted people with the joys of His presence.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart… (Psalm 15:1-2, NKJV)
When you were a child, did your parents ever tell you to stand up straight? Walking uprightly describes the spiritual posture of the one who may abide in the presence of God. It means to be sound, wholesome, innocent, having integrity. The Holy One has ever called upon people of faith to walk before Him in blamelessness (Gen. 17:1). To walk uprightly is equivalent to walking in God’s truth (Psa. 26:1, 3). Those who “walk righteously and speak uprightly” dwell on high and escape the “everlasting burnings” of God’s wrath (Isa. 33:14-16). The standard by which we straighten our moral and spiritual posture to walk uprightly is God’s truth. So, stand up straight and walk in the integrity of your heart, with God’s word inscribed upon it (Heb. 8:10). Walk uprightly into God’s tent and find rest.
37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–39, NKJV)
Lying, cheating and stealing are widespread in America and around the world. Over one-half of 2012 American high school students surveyed admitted cheating on an exam, 55% to lying to a teacher, and 20% to stealing (2012 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth). At the same time, “99 percent agree that “it is important for me to be a person with good character” (Ibid). Their challenge (and ours) is a total commitment to honesty and integrity. The Bible is clear on this matter. Lying, stealing and cheating are sins against God and against one’s neighbor. Stealing is sin: “Let him who stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28). Lying is sin: “Put away lying, ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (Eph. 4:25). Cheating is sin: “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him” (Lev. 19:13; Prov. 11:1). So, when we lie, cheat and steal we are not loving of God and we are not loving our neighbor. Commit yourself to loving God and others by being honest in your every word and deed.