Dear Members in Christ,
“Truthfulness and honesty in life” Matthew 5:37
Our modern life is enabled by the hyper-speed connections on the internet which offers a huge flourishing media and news network available for our reading pleasure. Very often we are faced with this question: Is a piece of news real or fake? Where is the source of this news article? Certain sources are more reliable than others, and some are untrustworthy.
In our Christian lives, we are constantly subjected to evaluation by those around us. One important area of our conduct that is open for all to see is our character of truthfulness. Christians are supposed to be honest in character, truthful in our words, and sincere in our deeds. Today’s article draws from the teaching of the Lord Jesus about honesty and sincerity.
The Lord Jesus taught the multitudes in Matthew 5:37 “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
The faithful believer is exhorted in this bible passage to honour his or her word. A Christian is supposed to be truthful and to keep your promises made to others. Breaching our word of promise risks others calling us a “dishonest man” or a “liar.” That would put our Christian testimony in a bad light. Let us examine what the Lord Jesus taught His disciples.
A reproach against the sin of a false oath
In the passage Matthew 5:33, the Lord Jesus begins His lesson with “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” The religious people in the time of the Lord Jesus had a bad habit of making false oaths.
In Matthew 23:16, we read of some examples of how the Pharisees had taught falsehood in saying that an oath made on the temple will be non-binding, but an oath made upon the “gold of the temple” is binding. Similarly, in Matthew 23:18, an oath made upon the altar is non-binding, but an oath made on the gift laid upon the altar is binding. These are opportunities for unscrupulous men to take advantage of those who are less educated in the religious laws. Anyone could make oaths and dismiss it as non-binding, therefore defaulting on a promise.
To these people, the Lord Jesus had a rebuke for them, He calls them “fools and blind guides.” Under the guise of an oath, the dishonest men could cheat others and back out of a promise with no consequences. The Lord Jesus had harsh words for those who taught this dishonest doctrine of false oaths, the Lord rebukes them “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33.
There is nothing admirable about a Christian who is tricky and cunning in conduct and business. Christians who think that they are good at giving quick answers without verifying the truthfulness of the content falls into this category of giving a bad testimony. So, does the Bible teach us about how we ought to conduct ourselves sincerely and honestly?
The Biblical teaching about honesty and truthfulness in the life of a believer
The Lord Jesus is clear about honesty and sincerity. He says, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” For the believer, our word given is the word of truth. Our promise before others is as good as a matter accomplished.
The believer is to be truthful in word and deed. The believer is to be truthful and honest before God. Any oath made before God must be fulfilled, for the Lord says, “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” Matthew 5:33. To “foreswear” means to commit perjury, to speak a lie, or specifically, to lie under oath. So, when the Lord uses the phrase, “let your communication be, Yea, yea,” it teaches the Christian to honour his word. When a Christian makes a promise, his word is as good as an oath. The Christian’s character is one of truthfulness and faithfulness. Whatever he promises, he is sure that he will fulfill it to the best of his ability. Whatsoever he is unsure about, he commits to God’s will. Just as the writer of the epistle to James says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James 4:14, 15.
Our Testimony of truthfulness and honesty
Truthfulness and honesty in our testimony are all so important, and can only be achieved with a diligent search of the truth. If we are about to make a promise, we must commit the decision to God. Firstly, we ensure that our promise and agreement are in accordance with God’s will. Do not promise your superiors at work that you will carry out a task if it involves deception or trickery. Your Christian testimony is worth more than winning a contract or accomplishing a task. A promise which violates God’s standards for His children is like a foolish vow. Do not act when it will incur God’s displeasure.
If we have a promise to fulfill, it must be honored even if we incur a loss. Never offer a promise which you have no intention to fulfill. Parents can sometimes be guilty of making empty promises to their children. These actions are untruthful and dishonest and it affects the testimony of Christian parents.
Children (or even employees) sometimes dismiss fulfilling a promise by saying, “I’ll do it another day.” Or they may say, “let’s just forgo it this time, the next time, I’ll do it right.” These excuses are tantamount to fake promises.
Let us be truthful in our lives. Let our “yea” be “yea,” let us honour our promises to others. If we are unsure, let us be humble to admit, “…if Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Let us guard our testimony of honesty and faithfulness for the glory of God.
Dn. Lim Seh Beng