Summary: Those who belong to the kingdom of God live with integrity. We are people whose yes means yes and our no means no. We keep our promises because we love Jesus Christ and serve as his ambassadors.
We will be looking at Matthew 5:33-37 this morning
The Scriptures are printed on the back of your bulletin insert
ILLUSTRATION: A wealthy businessman was very sick almost to the point of death. As he lay in his hospital bed a preacher walked in to pray for him. The sick man told the preacher, “If God raises me up from this thing I will give the church 1 million dollars.”
Well, God did raise him up and in just a few days he was better and out of the hospital. A few weeks passed by and the preacher bumped into the businessman at a neighborhood restaurant. The preacher said, “Hey, do you remember that you told me you would give 1 million dollars to the church if God healed you? Well, God did but we have not received the money yet.” The businessman replied, “Did I really say that? Wow! That just goes to show you how sick I really was!”
(TRANSITION) We have all heard stories like this where a person promises God something IF He will do something for them. God answers their prayers BUT they forget their end of the deal.
A few years ago a book was published entitled “The Day America Told the Truth.” In the book were the findings of surveys done with thousands of people about how honest they are and how much value they place on integrity. Here were the results..
91% stated they lie on a regular basis
86% said they lie to their parents regularly
69% stated they lie to their spouse consistently
75% said they lie to their friends
50% said they regularly called into work sick but were not sick
Now I am not taking a survey this morning but unfortunately many people who profess faith in Christ fall into these statistics as well. In another study between Christian and non-Christian adults it was discovered that
Almost the same number of Christians stole from their workplace as non-Christians
they found that Christians are just as likely to falsify our income taxes, and commit plagiarism, and give bribes to obtain a building permit, and ignore construction specs, and illegally copy computer programs, and steal time from work, and exaggerate our products, and selectively obey the law.
(TRANSITION) Hopefully, you are not counted among these statistics this morning. But what does Jesus teach us about having integrity - about keeping our promises? Let’s look at Matthew 5:33-37 together this morning.
READ Matthew 5:33-37
There are three very explicit OT passage of Scripture that teach us about lying.
Leviticus 19:12 Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
Numbers 30:2 When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.
Deuteronomy 23:21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.
As we read these passages we can see that God is placing great emphasis on being truthful and about having integrity. If we make a promise - if we make a vow - then we should keep that vow. God is telling us not to quickly enter into making a promise or swearing an oath without first considering the consequences of not being able to fulfill our promises. The writer of Ecclesiastes says,
5:5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
ILLUSTRATION: Think of this in the context of a marriage. When I perform a wedding I usually say something to the effect that this man and woman should not enter into this marriage covenant LIGHTLY. Why do I say these words - because when we make a vow we should do it having considered the cost. I find it interesting that Jesus’ teaching about keeping our commitments comes immediately after having taught about adultery and divorce. I am pretty sure Jesus planned it that way!
The Scriptures also tell us to keep the integrity of our heart.
READ Psalm 15
Time after time in the OT we hear the prophets crying out to God for someone - anyone who would live with integrity and do the will and work of God. They begged God to send them to people who did not lack truth in their heart.
The Law was clear about its teaching concerning lying and stealing and making oaths (vows). It was pretty simple - DO NOT STEAL - DO NOT MAKE FALSE OATHS - simple RIGHT - NO.
As usual the religious folks got a hold on the Law and started saying, “Just how much can we get away with before we commit sin or break the Law? What is the limit?”