Say what you mean and mean what you say. Pretty simple really. Except that it’s not. We live in a culture that values deception as craftiness and the way to get ahead. We are expected to be “kind” by telling people what they want to hear, and to avoid “judging” others by not really caring about them at all. “Mind your own business” is our American mantra. Jesus says otherwise. His kingdom is counter-cultural. It turns culture upside down! “But I tell you…” is his favorite tagline in his great sermon on a mountainside.
You’ve heard that it was said, “Don’t commit adultery, but I tell you” don’t indulge YOURSELF in lust. Self is not most important in this kingdom.
You’ve heard that it was said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce, but I tell you” don’t discard someone you are in covenant relationship with on every SELFISH whim. Self is not most important in this kingdom.
You’ve heard that it was said, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn, but I tell you MEAN WHAT YOU SAY; don’t abuse words just to get what YOU WANT! Self is not most important in this kingdom.
There’s a common theme in these admonitions – value yourself less; place value on people and on your promises.
You made promises in a marriage vow? Mean them. Value the man or woman you married by being satisfied by them, physically and emotionally, even when they get it wrong. You promised to love and cherish them? Mean that. Just because you can get a divorce, don’t – unless you have exhausted all attempts at reconciliation and peace. Don’t discard people like you do old junk. Use things, love people. Love sacrifices and is not dependent on self-absorption. Don’t confuse love with selfish gratification. You promised this person that for better or for worse, you were in this covenant until death parted you? Mean that.
Come to think of it, always mean what you say. Let your “Yes” mean yes, affirmative, absolutely. Let your “No” mean no, negative, I will not. Your spouse, your kids, your friends and family, should be able to trust your words, and certainly don’t need some fluffy, inflated promise to take you seriously.
This isn’t harsh – it’s a really good way to live. Think about it. If you never doubted what other people said, but could count on honesty and a spoken commitment to be absolute, wouldn’t that change everything? Wouldn’t a world void of deception and ulterior motives be heavenly? In fact, it is – that is the kingdom of God. And one day, it will work in its redemptive state – perfectly!
We live in a loop-hole world. The smartest, shrewdest people find the loopholes and usually make the most money, qualities our culture worships. God’s economy is different. Honesty and selflessness matter. Avoid the loopholes, and expose the heart. How often do you distort the truth with your words and/or actions? How much do you value your promises? Dig deep and risk the vulnerability of living God’s way, as far as it depends on you. Even in a fallen and chaotic world, the light still can shine brightly and overcome the darkness.