Matthew 5:33-37 in the Bible talk about oaths. The verses, from the Sermon on the Mount tell us how to handle making an oath or swearing (not the cussing type of swearing but the “I’m telling the truth” type of swearing).
The upshot is that we simply shouldn’t swear. “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, NIV).
I love but completely misuse this last verse.
What I love is the idea of speaking plainly. Just say yes. Don’t add a bunch of ornament to prove your point or swear by this or that. Don’t toss in an ‘honestly…’ or a ‘trust me on this…’.
Just speak your peace. Back it up with action.
Where I misuse the verse is as a reminder not to be a smart ass.
Every once in a while, I”ll share my opinion in a way that comes across a little sarcastic or smart-alecky. If you didn’t know me when I say certain things, you might not know if I’m being serious or not.
It can be confusing.
And in the home, my words can come out sideways kind of like this, “I guess nobody noticed all these dishes on the counter, so I might as well take care of cleaning things up.”
Or, “I guess no one knew that we have to be at such and such place at this exact same time every week so I better make sure to give everybody a wake up call each Sunday.”
Stuff like that. Those passive-aggressive turns of phrase become tiresome to others.
They can become a habit that cut into others at various debts.
Sometimes they can be funny enough to get a chuckle. But over time, they create confusion in communication and hurt feelings.
So I appeal to that verse. To let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ or my ‘no’ be ‘no’.
If I believe that the kids need to help more with the dishes, instead of saying, “Y’all must not be able to see dishes sitting around, so I’ll take care of it.” I should say, “Hey guys, please put your dishes up in the dishwasher. If they pile up, we’ll be asking you to take care of the whole thing at once. Please help out more around the house.”
Clear. Concise. Good communication. No confusion.
If we want good relationships over time, we have to develop these habits of clear communication.