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.
Since today is Super Tuesday, many people are interested in which presidential candidates will win the states that vote tonight. The candidates have been busy on the campaign trail, making promises about what they will or will not do. Some are making more promises than others. But despite how many promises each of the candidates make to set themselves apart from their opponents, there is a very high probability that they will not be able to keep all their promises. Such is the reality of politics and elections.
Today Jesus has something to say about promises. He says, "don't make them!" In the Old Testament there were many types of vows and oaths made. One commentary says, "There are about 30 biblical references to vows, most of which are from the Old Testament. The books of Leviticus and Numbers have several references to vows in relation to offerings and sacrifices. There were dire consequences for the Israelites who made and broke vows, especially vows to God."
But as Jesus continues re-interpreting the true meaning of the Old Testament law, he is saying don't make vows at all. Why?
1. We don't know for sure if we can keep our vows. When we make a vow and don't keep it, it reflects on our character and trustworthiness. The next time we vow something we might not be taken seriously. We are prone to errors and mistakes in judgment on top of that.
2. We don't know what the future holds, only God does. We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow let alone the next day or the next. God is in control and not us and works all things together for good.
3. Finally, our word should be sufficient. Jesus says, "Let your "yes" be "yes", and your "no" be "no"! When we swear or make vows, it is almost like saying my words isn't enough I have to add extra promises.
So the next time your are tempted to make a vow, don't do it. Simply let your "yes" be "yes", and your "no" be "no". And the leave the rest to God. One last thing I am not talking about vows we make to our spouses at our weddings. The difference there is we are making a vow to be faithful based on God's faithfulness to us. We are making a vow and letting our "yes" be "yes", and our "no" be "no" in Jesus Christ.