THE TROUBLE WITH VOWS
Matthew 5:33-37 "You have also heard that our ancestors 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.
Christ does not forbid judicial oaths. Note, (1) God sometimes swears by himself (Gen_22:16-17); (2) Jesus made oath before the Sanhedrim (Mat_26:63); (3) Paul made oath to the Corinthians (2Co_1:23). He does forbid all profanity and idle oaths, such as were common among the Jews, and still so defile the mouths of men. –People’s NT Commentary
These oaths that Jesus speaks of here would have more to do with swearing to accomplish something such as revenge, or some great feat. The problem with such an oath is again a matter of the heart. It is saying, “I will accomplish what I set out to do and nothing shall stop me.” To add to that an oath such as, “by God,” or “as sure as the sun rises,” etc. is to claim yourself greater than God. As James points out in the passage below we do not know what life holds for us in the next few minutes, let alone in the long term.
James 4:13-16 Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." (14) How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it's here a little while, then it's gone. (15) What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." (16) Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.
Jesus points out that anything more than a simple “yes” or “no” is from the evil one and James here reiterates this. It is evil because it is generated from a desire to build up ourselves as something special above what we truly are, which is exactly what Satan attempted to do long ago. We have already pointed out that we are to be humble in all of our dealings and that our wrath does not work the righteousness of God. Many oaths are made in a moment of anger with a desire for revenge. Romans 12:19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD.
This takes us to another matter of the heart – trust. When we feel the need to take revenge we refuse to trust that God will judge fairly and that He will keep His promise to bless those who are persecuted for His sake. On top of that we fail to respond with prayer, forgiveness and blessing toward those who use us and hurt us.
Other translations of Matthew 5 use the word, “Swear” and some commentaries include the use of ungodly language (cussing) when they discuss this passage. Along those lines let it suffice to quote the apostle Paul. Ephesians 4:29 Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Father in heaven, Thank You we can trust You to bless us and to judge fairly. Help us to yield to Your Holy Spirit in all our dealings. May we be found peaceful, trusting and faithful. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!