Reviving Anabaptism in the Netherlands

"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." Matthew 5:33-37

The importance of being honest

The Lord’s command

Have you ever heard of a white lie? When you tell someone something just to sound pleasing or comforting to them, you take a step away from the Lord, who loves only the truth. When He gave us the ten commandments, He told us in no uncertain terms that we should never lie. Just as the commandment forbidding murder made no exceptions for the king’s executioner or the soldier on the battlefield, the Lord said:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." Exodus 20:16

and made no exceptions. Deceitful people and servants of the devil will always try to find ways to bend and break God’s laws, but the faithful will see that any deviation from the truth is wrong. Let us examine some reasons people may give for telling lies.

Fairy tales

Often people will tell untruths to children, telling them about Santa-claus and the tooth-fairy and other such myths and folklore without explaining what is real and what is not, and will defend themselves based on tradition. As Christians, our traditions should be based not on those of the world, but on those few who, throughout the ages, have gone to great lengths to remain faithful to God. There are plenty of stories we can tell children from these traditions, from the creation of the world, through Adam, Abraham, Noah, Mozes and David to Christ. And when we tell stories from other authors, we should be sure to explain the difference, rather than set ourselves up for the inevitable disappointment when our child finds out the tooth-fairy isn’t real.

"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." II Timothy 2:16

Lies of comfort

Another class of lies told to children is those of comfort. But I find that, although the truth about a certain matter isn’t always comforting, we can use other methods to show our love, remind our children that the Lord loves us always, and this will put us on a path to have a better relationship with our child. If you tell an adult a lie to comfort them, they will quickly find out and feel patronised. Children will likewise feel better respected if you tell them the truth. Just as with adults, joking with children is all very well, as long as they know the difference between fact and fiction.

"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40

Lies for gain

It goes without saying that the Lord who sees and knows all things, despises lies especially when told for your own gain. If you thought nobody would find out, you will have to answer to God for such thoughts.

The shady side of oaths and promises

Having established that everything we say should be true, why do you suppose Jesus told us never to swear oaths or make promises? He said, when you mean ‘yes’, say only that, and likewise for ‘no’; adding anything more, such as ‘I promise’, cometh of evil. Jesus' command is clear, and we should dutifully apply it, even if you may disagree with my following speculation on the reason for it.

If you’re writing a letter, you could emphasize certain words, to better bring your point across.

But, what happens when you underline and embolden every word in the letter?

The effect is lost.

There is a flip-side to every promise or oath a person makes; it emphasizes the truthfullness of the statement. Hence, it communicates the fact that other things said may not actually be true. If in one case, I say ‘we will come tomorrow’, while another time I say ‘I promise we will come tomorrow’ and placed before a minister in the church I solemnly vow to be with my wife until death do us part, I have created three standards of truth, where the Lord prescribes one. It is impossible to emphasize one thing without de-emphasizing another, and it is impossible to make one statement more true without casting doubt on all other statements.

So, let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.