WHEN YOUR “NO” IS “YES”
Lord, help me to avoid Pharisaical hypocrisy in my daily living.
Read MATTHEW 5:33–48
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.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
In my culture, we often would say “no” when we are offered a meal or a gift. This does not mean we do not want them. We would say “yes” only after the host makes the offer for the second or third time. I quickly realized how this cultural practice would not work when I was studying in the US! If I were to say “no” to friends who kindly offered me food, I should not expect the offer to be repeated. I should mean what I say and be prepared not to hear another offer.
The Pharisees had an interesting way to gauge how serious one was in keeping an oath, depending on the name or place one swore by. If someone did not have any intention of keeping what was promised, this person could swear “by the earth.” Unless one swore by God’s name, the oath would probably be meant to be broken. Jesus speaks against this hypocritical manner of deceiving others by challenging the prevailing practices. Although the Old Testament allows for oaths, Jesus prohibits it here because the frequent use of oath in daily discourse has a way of cheapening one’s word. He does not want people to be trustworthy only when they swear by God’s name.
Jesus reminds us that we must be truthful in our speech and action in our relations with others. We must mean what we say. In verses 38–48 he further expounds on the issues of non-retaliation and of loving our enemies. Christian righteousness should not be limited to our actions and what we do not do to others. It should extend to our heart, mind and motives—and even penetrate those hidden and secret places within us. Let us be mindful of our speech. Let us strive to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect (48).
“Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (Prov. 4:24). Reflect on your speech. How does it measure up?
Lord, help me to see You as the standard of behavior when it comes to dealing with other people.