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.
There are a lot of criteria here and they actually end up affecting different areas of our lives, so let's parse through them one at a time.
Swear not at all aka watch how we promise. This isn't to say we don't make promises or oaths. It's just God's way of getting us off the hook outside of our commitments to Him. The only one we need to be making promises to is God or by His influence to another. If we are going around making guarantees that haven't been prayed over and considered under God's counsel, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Not by heaven aka God's authority. This is the seat of God's power. We don't control God's power and we can't invoke it in our lives or the lives of others at our own whims. I can't try and command God like Moses did to bring water of the rock when he struck it in anger. God may have produced water, but He took away Moses' opportunity to enter the Promise Land. If we try to control God's power, the promises God has given us will be at risk as well.
Not by earth aka God's creation. The earth is a marvelous thing. It's a part of and symbol for creation. However, we can't put more weight on the creation than we put on the creator. An example of this are those who look at the Earth as being almost or in fact a deity. They celebrate and worship the creation as though it were of its own making. This isn't just those in New Age and Easter religions. It's some of the brightest minds in science. They have removed God from the equation of creation and swear by it above His Name. However, the earth won't bail us out when we are in trouble. Creation can't supply our needs beyond what God allows it. If we get too comfortable with the blessings of this life, we'll fall into the trap of honoring the creation instead of the Creator. In that place is great disappointment. Creation lets us down and science is fallible. God is always there and always true. We must give Him our vows and let our oaths filter through His leading.
Not by Jerusalem aka His sacred place. There are many things that are sacred to God. When we use them for our own carnal purposes or take them out of context, we basically tell God that we don't honor what is sacred to Him. One example of this was in the Crusades. The church leaders in those times believed that Jerusalem was the answer to their problems and to take it back from the Muslim leaders who possessed it would please God. Others saw it as an opportunity to attain glory and riches. The manner in which these leaders and nations handled the City of God was so egregious and dishonorable, it's little wonder that the the multiple Crusades ended up a squandered failure. Jerusalem remained under the Muslim banner and entire nations and people were biased against Christianity from that day forward. There are many other ideas, concepts and things that are sacred to God. To misuse them and take them out of context in our actions and discourses will result in the same folly as those who misused the City of God.
Not by our own heads because we control nothing. We are an amazing creation and imbued with power from on high when God fills us with the Holy Ghost. We become a sacred and separate entity to Him just like Jerusalem when He fills us with His Spirit. However, just because we are His favored creation and just because He has separated us out and filled us with power from on high doesn't mean we are all powerful. We don't need to buy into our own legend so much that we become the God in the story. If we are going to promise by anything to anyone or any situation, it must be God's Name. That way, He can get the glory like we discussed in ACCESS on Tuesday. Our oaths aren't about us following through . They are about God coming through. If we can get our minds around that, we'll be making promises that can be kept.
Tune into ACCESS tomorrow to see how we can get our minds calibrated correctly. Until then, God bless and keep searching.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.