Daily Devotion for September 11, 2009
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gospel of Matthew 5:33-37
The Sermon on the Mount [Part 5] - Swearing Oaths
Again, you have heard that it was said to them of old times, 'Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths'. But I tell you, don't swear at all; neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Nor should you swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Instead, say 'Yes' or 'No'; whatever is more than these comes from evil.
Notes on the Scripture
We have left the Mosaic commandment in archaic language for the effect. The meaning of the old text on swearing oaths is difficult. Likely, it means 'you should not swear a false oath (or perhaps, should not break an oath you have sworn), but must treat an oath as if you made a commitment to God'.
Christ's teaching is different, in that he tells us not to swear an oath at all. There is an assumption implied here: you are not going to lie about your intentions. And a person who isn't ever going to lie has no need of an oath.
Christ gives two reasons for not taking an oath. First, oaths are meaningless. If you swear on your mother's grave or the hair on your head, and lie, nothing is going to happen to your mother or her grave or your hair. It's nonsense. And oaths sworn on God are disrespectful and proud.
Then Christ tells us that oaths come from evil. He doesn't explain this, unfortunately. Is the evil that of pride, that we attempt to make a person believe that our words have greater effect than they actually do? Or are they superstitious? Or are people who make such oaths more likely to be lying, more focused on making the listener believe them than in telling the truth?
I have always been impressed when someone refuses to swear an oath. In court, occasionally, you will see a witness who refuses to put his hand on a Bible and take an oath, because he is following the prohibition in Matthew 5:37. It is, actually, rather ironic in the first place, to ask someone to swear an oath on a book which states that you shouldn't swear oaths. Personally, I'm always impressed with the veracity of such people. If they take the Bible seriously enough to follow this passage, perhaps they are more likely to tell the truth.