Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire,” exclaimed James about the foibles of the human tongue (ref. James 3:5).   As a deliverer of both blessings and curses (and a lot in between) the tongue has a delinquency of sorts and a mind all its own.  Jesus addressed the dichotomy head-on.

He first acknowledged that in the past it was a rule to not swear falsely – which would include the seventh commandment of not taking the Lord’s name in vain – but he then went on to say  “do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is as the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool…” (Matthew 5: 33-37). Jesus showed other examples, such as not swearing by Jerusalem “for it is the city of the great King.”   The final addition to his list was not swearing by one’s head because, he said, you “cannot make one hair white or black.”

Jesus’ lesson on manners of linguistic response are largely about being honest and direct.    For those inclined to speak too much, or make excuses, or simply hover interminably in the grey “maybe” areas,  Jesus commanded clarity.   “Let your word be either “Yes,” or “No,” he instructed, because anything else causes insidious suffering and can fall prey to evil.  Being truthfully succinct refreshes every situation and liberates confusion.

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