Peterson’s translation of the verses I’ve been reading about oath-taking add another dimension to this command from Jesus. He shows even more the importance of being a person who keeps my word.
You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. (Matthew 5:34–37, The Message)How many times have I told someone that I’d pray for them, then forgot? My intentions were good, I think. Maybe it said that because they were in stress and I didn’t know what else to say? Nonetheless, too often I have not kept my word.
In our world, reliability is rare. Those we should respect are no longer trusted as they used to be. In a poll of 2000 people, the BBC reports that the most trusted people are doctors; the least are journalists.
The Canadian Readers’ Digest gives these results from a poll of professions considered by Canadians as trustworthy. In order, the most trusted to the least: firefighters, ambulance drivers/paramedics, airline pilots, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, police, members of the armed forces, veterinarians, dentists, teachers and judges.
At the bottom of the list were lawyers, print journalists, actors/actresses, car mechanics, investment brokers, taxi drivers, psychics/astrologers, CEOs, real estate agents, home building contractors, politicians, car salespeople, and at the very bottom, telemarketers.
Clergy was somewhere in the middle, indicating at least two things: false teachers have brought down the credibility of all religious people, and Christians who do not obey Jesus and keep their word have put us lower in the polls than we should be.
While these polls are generalized and not true of everyone, they do indicate that many people will trust doctors, firefighters, pilots and so on with their lives, but trust far fewer people with their money and possessions. Very few will give the time of day to people with a ‘hit and run’ message on the telephone.
Where do I fit in this poll? I’d like to be a person that others would think trustworthy to the point that when I tell them the truth about their spiritual lives, they would believe me. I value truth and want to be a truthful and trustworthy person. I know that only Jesus tells the truth totally and without bias or deception. I want to be like Him.