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Summary: We must keep our promises and people of our word.

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Relationships in the Kingdom – Part 4

May 13, 2001

INTRODUCTION

Could you function if you always had to tell the truth?

Someone who had to come to terms with this question was Fletcher Reede, the slick lawyer played by Jim Carrey in the movie “Liar, Liar.”

Fletcher doesn’t have much of a problem in bending the truth a little (or a lot), whenever there’s a need for it. With a fib here and a fib there, everything goes Fletcher’s way until his always neglected son, Max, makes a wish upon blowing his fifth birthday candles, that for just one day his father wouldn’t be able to tell even the smallest lie.

The wish comes true, and now whenever Fletcher opens his mouth, the only thing that comes out is the truth. Problem is, Fletcher doesn’t think he can function without the capacity to lie.

In the scene we’re going to watch right now, Fletcher goes to Max’s school to discuss this situation with his son.

(SHOW CLIP from Liar, Liar. Fletcher shows up at school with a birthday cake for Max.)

So what do you think?

Could you function if you always had to tell the truth?

Jim Carrey’s character couldn’t. And he didn’t realize it was a problem until his son told him how bad it made him feel.

The truth is, truthfulness affects relationships. When we disguise the truth we are able to get the upper hand – able to obtain an unfair advantage – able to abuse people – able to disappoint people – all for the sake of our own self interests.

A recent New York Times article revealed that 91% of people regularly don’t tell the truth. 20% admit they can’t get through the day without conscious premeditated white lies. And could it be that the folks who say they don’t lie regularly are themselves lying?

In the words of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, this report suggests that, as a society, we have moved very far away from the age when a “man’s word was his bond” to a society in which “people are more accepting than ever before of exaggerations, falsifications, fabrications, misstatements, misrepresentations, gloss-overs, quibbles, concoctions, equivocations, shuffles, prevarications, trims and truth colored and varnished.” (The Ten Commandments, p. 268-269)

It has changed the moral landscape of our nation. People expect that people in the public eye will lie if it serves their purposes. We’ve become complacent with partial-truths, spin-doctoring, context and distortion.

Kim and I went to Greg Boldt and Melissa Shirley’s graduation yesterday at Lincoln Christian College. They belong to the first college graduating class of the new millenium – the class of 2001.

Back in 1990, a Harris poll reported the findings of a survey given to these students who would graduate from college in 2001. When comparing the moral integrity and honesty of their generation with others, the class of 2001 said they were most likely to trust their grandparents’ generation (at 79%), followed by their parents’ generation at 68%. When considering their own generation, the trust level drops to only 25%.

People young and old are witnessing their world become a more treacherous place to live.

But when we consider the relationships Jesus Christ desires for people to have with each other, we find that truthfulness is not an area that allows for any compromise.

In fact, to display the heart Jesus desires to find in His followers,

We must keep our promises and be people of our word.

Jesus has been telling the crowd on the mountainside about how things like uncontrolled anger, unbridled sexual fantasy and easy divorce destroy relationships. Now he turns his attention in Matthew 5:33-37 to this topic of telling the truth:

READ TEXT

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

TRANSITION: Let’s learn from Jesus about how to be people of our word. First of all, Jesus points out a problem. He says that…

I. THE PROBLEM WITH OATHS: THEY LEAD TO DECEIT

An oath is simply an appeal to God made in public. A person would call upon God to witness his vow and punish him if he broke it. This was intended to be a barrier against untruthfulness and make statements sound more convincing.

Why would someone need to make a statement or a promise sound more convincing?

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