Integrity With Our Words

May 2, 2020

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors,  You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. 34 But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

Matthew 5:33-37

Written by Dennis Roman from the Brentwood Campus

“Integrity” is perennially in the top ten looked-up words in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Many people don’t know what integrity means, and some have never seen it in action. What a sad indictment this is of our modern-day Christianity.

In math, an integer is a whole number. It is a number without fractions or division. In society, a person with integrity is someone who is not divided. This person is the same at home, work or school as they are in church. They do not act one way at a party and another way when they attend Bible study. They are the same in private as they are leading worship. They are undivided with purity. Everything they do brings honor to Jesus.

In our Scripture today, Jesus addresses having integrity with our words. Our words alone should carry such weight that we do not need to swear an oath or try to convince the hearer that what we are saying is true. Yet our words can often demonstrate our lack of integrity. Have you promised you would pray for someone—and then forgotten? Have you misled someone to benefit your own selfish interests?

When trying to be emphatic, we may be tempted to use an expletive word or profanity for emphasis. Don’t do it! Jesus says in verse 37 the source of this tactic is the evil one. Doesn’t that rebuke send chills down your spine? Surely the violent nature of the spiritual battles we face was on Jesus’ mind.

The Bible describes the spiritual warfare believers face against demonic forces. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” The devil does not play by rules of fairness or truth. He will do us no favors. He seeks to devour us.

I became a Christian when I was a student in high school. Back then, I had a vile tongue. God convicted me that profanity was not to be a part of my life. He had to do a mighty work in me to change my thought life and speech patterns. I thank Him and praise Him for His gracious works. He’s not finished with me yet!

God’s priority for us is holiness. He is working in our lives right now to sanctify us, to purify us and to teach us to abide in Him and to be obedient to His every prompting. This way we will have a more intimate fellowship with God.

Oh, that we could put our head on our pillow tonight and sing the words of the old hymn, “There is nothing between my soul and my Savior” (Charles Albert Tinley, 1905). This internal lack of conflict, this integrity, brings such sweet fellowship!

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. God longs to help us have integrity. In what area of your life is God calling you to confront yourself, repent and turn to Him for cleansing and renewal?
  2. When someone shares a personal burden with you, make it a habit to stop right then and pray together. You will bless the hearer, you may bless an observer, and you will be more likely to remember to pray for this person on a regular basis.
  3. If you are given to using profanity, ask God to help you remove this from your thought life and your speech. Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Is this a language problem or a heart problem for you?
  4. John Piper said, “There is no bad habit, no weakness, no pride that Christ does not aim to overcome as the enemy of His honor.” Let’s pray this prayer today: “Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Prepare me for holy, sacred battle for You and Your Honor. Lord, I want to know You more.”

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