Simple Speaking   Reading for the week Matthew 5:33-37


As we have noted earlier in this series, Jesus often seems to refer back to the Ten Commandments. What he says here has a bearing on the Ninth Commandment, You must not testify falsely against your neighbour.

It also comments on the Third Commandment:  You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

Our use of language is mighty important, so much so that in another place Jesus says ‘‘It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.’ (Matt 15:11)

Truth, Promises, and Gentleness all matter. I read recently a politician had declared ‘Freedom of speech is very important; but that does not include the freedom to slander, to stir up hatred or to belittle others.

I believe that also applies to the printed word, and to the digital word on the internet. It applies as much to vile trolling on Twitter as it does to playground nastiness.

It is the use of language that forms our theme this week as we look at sections from the Book of Proverbs.

 Read Matthew 5:33-37

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

Promises – promises – promises!  Parcel deliverers, politicians, and builders all make promises. The job will be finished by … the parcel will arrive on … our Party will ..  And so it goes on. If you’ve never been on the end of a broken promise you are fortunate indeed!

To be the kind of person who’s word can be totally relied upon is a mark of sound character and genuine goodwill. The point here is not can you rely on other people but can other people rely on you. Are your actions in line with the promises you make?

In a court of law you may well be asked to take an oath on a Bible. For a witness appearing in court, the form of oath taken is generally as follows: “I swear (or the person taking the oath may promise) by Almighty God (or the person may name a god recognised by his or her religion) that the evidence I shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” If it is later proved that the statement is untrue, the person may be convicted of perjury. In other words, it is considered vital that a person’s testimony or promise can be relied upon.

There are those who take Jesus’ words here sufficiently seriously to say that they will not take any such oath invoking the Name of God, because their word can be totally relied upon in all circumstances.

Simple Speaking means that we should be able to rely absolutely on a person’s statement of intent.  I well remember buying my house in Steyning in a private sale from an individual I felt I could trust on the basis of a handshake over a glass of wine. We both stuck to our word and the sale progressed smoothly.

That is the kind of situation Jesus envisages, where trust can exist between two people on the basis of mutually understood reliability.

The rest of our readings this week come from the Book of Proverbs. The book is a series of short, pithy sayings, the organisation of which may seem a little disjointed; they don’t flow in any connected fashion but dodge about covering a wide variety of human situations. Quite a number of the sayings right through the book relate to our use of language, and they may well ring true in your experience. The purpose of the book is summed up in chapter 1 verses 2-4. ‘Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.

Read the sections this week with these purposes in mind.

Monday 25th January Daily Notes from The Hub