Genesis 16-17 Matthew 5:27-48
“Say only yes if you mean yes, and no if you mean no. If you say more than yes or no, it is from the Evil One.” (Matthew 5:37 NCV)
This next section of the Sermon on the Mount looks at integrity, especially integrity in relationships. Jesus begins this passage by talking about problems with a wandering eye that in itself is sexual sin. So many of the problems we see in today’s world could be handled by understanding the point that Jesus is making, at least if my understanding is correct. As Jesus describes someone eyeing a woman and desiring sex with her in this case, the woman is objectified. Who she is as a person takes second place to the desire to fulfill sexual desires. Relationships between people of the opposite sex must be built on integrity that values the other person to the point that you’d be willing to die for them. Jesus expands on that to the issue of marriage, eschewing the idea of throw away wives, or the idea of serial monogamy. Once you make a commitment, failure to live up to that commitment is sinning against the other person. While the admonitions are to the men in these situations, it was done so because men held the power in society at the time. In today’s world where we are closer to equality, though not all the way there, Jesus would include women in these admonitions. Finally, Jesus reminds people that their word should be their bond. We shouldn’t be believed because of the oaths we make; we should be believed because of our character, our integrity. When we say yes, we should mean it; when we say no, we should mean that too.
Jesus would have a difficult time getting an audience in today’s world. His talk of looking at a woman with an eye to having sex with her would infuriate people who would shout Him down while accusing Him of wanting to stifle First Amendment rights. His support for maintaining marriages would be met with reminders of how behind the times Jesus really was. His call for personal integrity where a person’s word was their bond would have to pass the muster of half a dozen lawyers on each side of the problem with a long contract outlining clauses and conditions. We need to return to a time of personal integrity. We may not change society overnight, but we can show the power of integrity through our lives.
May I always live my life so that people know that they can trust me, and my they realize that I can be trusted because I walk with You, Lord
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.