Jesus said, “But I am telling you that you shouldn’t swear on oath at all...”
— Matthew 5:34a (USC)
Truth needs no defence. We make a myth of truth, however, when we degrade the ‘serious’ things we say by making an oath – like, “..., really!” or “As God is my witness!” or “Honestly, ...” or “I’m sure of it.”
If we need to be guarantors for our word it means we are not as truthful in the words we say when we don’t provide such a guarantee. For that’s what an oath is – “I swear on my Grandmother’s grave” – which is a silly thing to say in any event if our grandmother was cremated. The mere fact of us saying anything should have an implicit oath about it without specifying it as a promissory note.
We are called to speak the truth in love.
Two key considerations:
1. It must be the truth we speak. We cannot get to the “in love” bit until we have ascended to what is right. Truth is the right information, given in the right way, at the right time, with the right tone and motive. Truth is not just the right information. Truth is all-right.
2. Communicating truth in love is all about ensuring what we say is done the right way, at the right time, with the right tone and motive. We use truth to bless others. Truth is favour to all – love – or it’s not truth. So, in these ways, truth and love – combined under holiness – become, essentially, one and the same thing. Truth is delivered lovingly; love is emblazoned in truth.
If we speak the truth in love we have no need of embellishing our words. Our ‘yes’ can be yes and our ‘no’, no.
And this is to be our focus: that we speak plainly. When we speak the truth, in love, plainly, we gain a reputation as people of integrity.
We should know that the truth will cost us something. We will, at times, have to sincerely apologise. At times we will have to admit we were wrong, mistaken, in error, lapsed, whatever.
There will be times when, to save our reputation as honest persons, we will need to tell on ourselves. Perhaps there is no better cliché than “honesty is the best policy.”
It can gladden our hearts no better to know we are considered persons of integrity.
What reason for joy, contentment, and praise of God! – When we have proven ourselves as able custodians of trust, as faithful servants, as diligent witnesses, as cordial fellows, we have attained something worthy for our gratified sense of enjoyment.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. In what areas do you struggle to speak the truth in love?
2. What do people say about you? Do they say you are a person of high integrity? If not, how can you work in the area of building integrity of character?
3. Who are your models of authenticity, courage, vulnerability, and integrity? Who are you learning from?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.