Guided by principle, grounded in purpose

Guided by principle, grounded in purpose

A man who makes a vow to the LORD or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do. – Numbers 30:2

Matthew 5:33-37

 33 “You have also heard that our fathers were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’

 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.

 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.

 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black.

 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

The 21st century has been marked by a precipitous slide away from objective fact finding and reporting. It seems as though so much News is now so often biased Fake News that we no longer know who or what to believe. Even our fact checkers online have failed us. Sadly, the phrase repeated again and again in courtrooms regarding sworn testimony has become almost meaningless to most everyone. “I Swear to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help me God”

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani stated in 2018, “Truth isn’t truth.”

What does genuine news look like? The Wall Street Journal has dedicated itself to providing an answer to that question. Their stated objective is to present information which is: Guided by principle, grounded in purpose.

“United under the banner ‘free markets, free people,’ The Wall Street Journal Opinion section has long served as a forum for intelligent, values-driven commentary. While we aim to persuade, every word we publish is the product of rigorous reporting, research and debate. And though we uphold the same standards, we operate with complete independence from the newsroom” (Street Journal Opinion).

In order to be guided by principle, we have to find and stand upon principles which are grounded in the Truth of the Word of God. This presupposes of course that the Father God exists and His Word is indeed the Absolute Truth.

Of all people on earth, the Jewish people were chosen to receive the Truth of God and preserve it for all humanity. They were to meditate on it day and night, hide it in I did in their hearts, and live it out daily. But, fallen human nature being what it is, the Jewish people figured out a way to get around the practice. What they did was the equivalent of what we do today. We make a statement or promise with our fingers crossed behind our backs.

They developed what might be called evasive swearing. “The Jews divided oaths into two classes, those which were absolutely binding and those which were not. Any oath which contained the name of God was absolutely binding; any oath which succeeded in evading the name of God was held not to be binding. The result was that if a man swore by the name of God in any form, he would rigidly keep that oath; but if he swore by heaven, or by earth, or by Jerusalem, or by his head, he felt quite free to break that oath. The result was that evasion had been brought to a fine art. The idea behind this was that if God’s name was used, God became a partner in the transaction; whereas if God’s name was not used, God had nothing to do with the transaction” (Barclay).

But in America today, evasive swearing has become the common practice of the land.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Declaration of Independence concludes with these noble words: “We pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Honor and duty are superior to rights and self-interest.

Father encourage and strengthen me to live a life of consistent integrity before You.

INSIGHT

The Lord Jesus Christ had a far superior idea. His solution was to not swear at all.

Matthew 5:34, 37

 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.

 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

The essence of who we are takes precedence over what we avow with our words.

Instead, the Lord Jesus Christ is saying that our character should be of such integrity that our words can be believed without an oath (ESV notes).

How can this be achieved? We make a once and for all choice to live and be guided by the principles of the Word of God. Then we simply reaffirm our commitment day by day. Our reputation and the lives we live speak for themselves.

We choose to be worthy of trust and that is that. We are known as people who are

dependable, reliable, responsible, truthful, faithful, reputable, ethical, honest, incorruptible, principled, and upright.

Further, there is so many more layers of important information that lurks below the surface in the Lord Jesus Christ’s words.

“In effect, Jesus is saying that, far from having to make God a partner in any transaction, no one can keep God out of any transaction. God is already there. Heaven is the throne of God; the earth is the footstool of God; Jerusalem is the city of God . . . Our lives are God’s; there is nothing in the world which does not belong to God; and therefore it does not matter whether God is actually named in so many words or not. God is there already” (Barclay).

But there is even more.

Here is a great eternal truth. Life cannot be divided into compartments in which some the Father is involved and in others in which He is not involved. For example, we cannot use one kind of language in church and another kind of language spoken at athletic events, or the workplace, or in family quarrels or the factory. There cannot be one kind of standard of conduct in the church and another kind of standard in the business world.

The fact is that the Father does not need to be invited into certain departments of life and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in His name. He hears all words.

The Father cannot be evaded or avoided. Neither can He be fooled or deceived. He is involved and everywhere present in all transactions. Ultimately, all promises are made in the presence of God (Barclay).

¯\_()_/¯

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