READ: Matthew 5:33-37
- Children have invented all kinds of creative ways of avoiding keeping promises. So, they cross their fingers or legs or arms or eyes. Then it doesn’t count. It appears that the Jewish community of Jesus’ day did the same. Apparently if they swore by something lesser – the altar – that wasn’t binding. But if you swore by God, then it was. The Mishnah (a Jewish explanation of the Old Testament law) had an entire section delineating various ways vows could be taken and which were binding and which weren’t.
- Finding ways to void a commitment seemed to be a specialty in Jesus’ day. Jewish leaders were claiming their property/income as Corban. In other words, dedicated to God. That meant it was restricted to being used only for God and thus could not be used for family members. Responsibility for parental care was relieved because all one’s resources had been given to God. It made you appear super-religious, but in reality was a way of getting out of responsibility.
- Based on what Jesus uses to illustrate His point, it appears that vows were taken on objects over which people felt were lesser than God. That way, they could avoid actually keeping the vow because they’d not promised it “on God.” Jesus says, all the objects that you use instead of God for your vows, belong to God. Therefore, it’s one and the same. Vows, no matter their “guarantee” were to be kept.
- What was your preferred version of “my fingers were crossed”?
- Why do people rely on “guarantees” for their vows?
- What compels us to leave ourselves an “out” when we give our word about something?
PRAY: Thank God that He always keeps His word. Ask God to help you develop the heart to always keep your word. Pray that we are a safe community where honesty is valued.