Vows / Swearing / Cursing (Matt 5v33-37)

Photo of cyclists on a beautiful sunny day cycling through fields in North Yorkshire. They agreed to cycle to the trees and back - and they did

Let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no. Stop trying to please everyone and over-complicating things. Better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way round.

Matthew 5v33-37 What do you think this is about?

Jesus teaches about vows/swearing/cursing.  My 13-year-old sometimes says “I swear I won’t do it” but we tell him not to.  It’s like saying “I swear on my grandmother’s grave” or “cross my heart and hope to die”.  You are literally cursing yourself.  Jesus says here, “let your YES be yes and your NO be no”.  It’s that simple.  People should be able to believe what you say.  You should either promise something and do it, or have the grace to say “No” with something as simple as, “Sorry that won’t work for me.”

If you have trouble with this – perhaps you could look at what you are being asked to do and whether you actually want to do it.  Sometimes it is better to own up and say – “Do you know what – I would rather not do that” than commit or promise something and then not deliver.  I always felt under great burden when people asked me to do things I didn’t want to do – especially if they said they “needed” me.  I literally went and saw a counsellor.

She gave me the following advice:

  1. An adult doesn’t have to justify why they don’t do something, they just need to say, “Sorry that doesn’t work for me” without getting into a long explanation.
  2. “It is okay to say no,” and
  3. “It is okay to say, I am really sorry, something has come up and I can no longer do X.”

While in an ideal world, we should and would normally like to honour all the promises we make, sometimes real life collides with our most valiant efforts – and then we just need to take a “rain check” or apologise and move on.  My advice in that situation is to:

  1. Stop over-complicating things
  2. Forgive yourself when you over-promise and under-deliver
  3. With God’s grace try to do the opposite – under-promise and over-deliver!

© Copyright Michelle Sherlock 30/05/2011 (Photo updated May 2014)

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