Summary: To show the true indicator of the heart’s condition (words) and the possibility of cleansing.
’TIL DEATH DO US PART
(The third in a sermon series from Matthew 12 called “Words We Live By”)*
Sermon Objective: To show the true indicator of the heart’s condition (words) and the possibility of cleansing.
We are continuing a sermon series from Matthew 12 called “Words We Live By.” Many creeds, pledges, and mottoes have shaped our country, as well as it’s individual citizens. In many instances the words convey uplifting and presumably timeless messages. They play an important role in creating a collective identity – even in shaping a national consciousness. They operate behind the scenes as a moral compass and a driving force.
Previous sermons have looked at the statement on the Statue of Liberty: “GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE. . . ” We saw that the Church embodies those words in our spirit of mercy and compassion just as Jesus suggested in Matthew 12:7, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” We also looked at “IN GOD WE TRUST” from Matthew 12:21; we discovered it is still the desire of God that “In his name the nations will put their hope.”
You are familiar with these “Words We Live By.” They are found everywhere! They have woven themselves into our lives. Some, which we will not be able to look at are:
• “What the people don’t know WILL hurt them” (The motto of the Johnston City Press-Chronicle)
• “The salvation of the state is the watchfulness of the people” (The Nebraska State Capitol)
There are others I’ll mention next week -- our concluding week of the series – when the sermon will be “E Pluribus Unum” (vv. 46-50 ).
All of these are “Words We Live By” which can illuminate the “WORDS we live by” -- namely Jesus Christ’s.
You are familiar with these words: “To love and to honor, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.”
Those are powerful words! Merely HEARING them evokes specific images and memories. SAYING them incites strong emotion and a sense of duty.
Let me show you. Those of you who are setting with your spouse this morning -- I want you to turn to them and look them straight in the eye. Right now, go ahead. Now take their hand in yours and together repeat after me:
to love and to honor you,
in sickness and in health,
‘til death do us part.
See what I mean? Just saying it eye to eye, hand in hand can be a reaffirming moment on a marriage.
The “trophlight” or “exchange of vows” has virtually been unchanged for over 500 years. It crosses continents, cultures, and religious allegiances. WHY HAS IT BEEN ABLE TO MAKE THE SHIFT AND MOVEMENT SO EASILY? BECAUSE IT HAS MEANING FOR ALL WHO SAY IT.
YOU, MY FRIEND, HAVE JUST EXPERIENCED THE POWER OF WORDS. YOU HAVE JUST EXPERIENCED WHAT SAYING THEM AND WHAT HEARING THEM CAN DO.
And what is true of a Marriage Vow is equally true of other oaths. Listen to what Jesus says about your words:
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Let’s say another pledge together. This is one that everyone can participate in. It was originally male in its intent but you will all catch on and recognize its familiarity. Okay let’s get ready -- raise your right hand and point three fingers in the air and repeat after me.
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong
and morally straight.
(The Boy Scout Oath.)
Now you are all good Boy Scouts!
Alright, its “equal time” for the ladies. Men, you should participate. Everyone raise your right hand and point three fingers in the air and repeat after me:
On my honor I will try
To serve God and my country