Holy Truth Tellers
by Julia Halterman
Why do we feel the need to swear?
I’m not speaking of choice adjectives that we were chastised for using as adolescents or avoid saying in front of our children.
Why do we choose to swear, to promise, to make covenants?
We can certainly find precedence in the scriptures for oath-making. Yahweh made a promise to Abraham, yet Abraham, having no power to fulfill his end of the bargain, wasn’t the one to pass through his covenant-end, literally or metaphorically. (Genesis 15:17)
Peter promised to remain true to Jesus, but instead denied Him three times. Did His good Master leave Him to the sure devastation and destruction of His own miserable failure? No. Instead, He saved Him from His sin through the shedding of His own blood and raised Peter up as the rock in which He’d build His church (Matthew 16:18). That’s a powerful response to a broken promise.
What about us? When we make our promises, when we place our hand on the Bible and swear to tell the whole truth, are we any more likely to fulfill our words? I’d wager that we are not. In fact, our centeredness around promise-making makes us quick to forget something very important: our words, in and of themselves, have power (Proverbs 18:21), and we lack the omniscience and omnipotence to make our words any more true because we promise that they might be so.
Likewise, we serve a God who IS omniscient and omnipotent, and while He asks for our faithfulness and fidelity always, this is especially true when we promise Him something (Deuteronomy 23:21). Thanks be to God, He understands our limitations, as He was once made weak on our behalf. He doesn’t require our oaths - just our faithfulness. And even then, He has provided a means for forgiveness when we fail. He has and will fulfill every promise, and His promises are secure in the power of His name - Yahweh, I AM.
So friends, let us respond to His goodness and the security of His words by being a people whose “yes” means yes and “no” means no. As we pray that His kingdom might come and await the day of His promised return, let us be holy truth tellers, speaking honestly, in love, and with action, at all times.
Father God, I need to remember and believe again that You are who You say You are. Fill me with your Spirit, that I might not be quick to forget. When I feel the need to control, to manipulate, or to rely on my own strength, help me to lean first and foremost on the sureness of your promises. Renew my anxious heart with one filled overflowing of peace and love, that others might see the beauty of your redemption in Jesus. Thank you for your overwhelming, never ceasing goodness and faithfulness to me.
In Jesus' name, Amen.