Have you ever felt out of control? Many times we think we control the environment around us but in truth we do not. In life we strive to have a handle on things, get a grip. How does God fit into the control we want to have? Who is in control? Greetings, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever held something “close to your vest”? That means we hold some information back. We do not reveal all of what we know. This way we feel we control what others know. But we then need to remember who we told what. That can become a burden and eventually our manipulation will be found out. Then what?
Words that have become popular today include; spin, damage control, repackaging and the like. All created and practiced to control what others hear and think about a situation. They all fall into the category that our passage talks about today. We say things we don’t mean, swear to them, invoke God’s name all in an effort to convince others to do it our way. Look at this section of verses out of the passage we read last week.
Matthew 5:33-37: “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.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your `Yes’ be `Yes,’ and your `No,’ `No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Manipulating others is a harsh concept for us to admit but it is something that we all engage in. There are very few truly honest people in this world. When we see one, we do not value them, we think they are naive. Why? Because they are vulnerable and they don’t play the game of manipulating their words to please or protect.
Most of us have seen the movie Forest Gump? Do you know what made Forest special? He was truly honest. His yes meant yes and his no meant no. When he had something to say he said it; he wasn’t what we would refer to as tactful. Looks and sounds so strange, doesn’t it?
How about us? Have we fallen into the trap of making commitments and promises that we can’t keep? Why is it that we think we can control the events of our lives to the point that we commit to do so to others? Look at what Jesus says in this verse, “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.”. Actually, I think we can make them gray by worrying about too many things, but I digress. We really do not realize how little control we have in our lives.
Jesus councils us to simplify things, less is more. Say yes when the answer is yes and no when the answer is no. Don’t spend time thinking it through and overthinking things. When we do that, we end up making promises that we cannot keep. Worse yet we have to think up another way to cover for the things we didn’t do.
In sports, gamesmanship is part of the deal. We reveal things in a way as to keep others thinking and guessing, keeping the competition off balance. Don’t let that become a lifestyle. We can get so caught up in manipulation, control and orchestrating events that our lives spin out of control. We don’t know what is real and what is fabricated. The burden becomes overwhelming. Jesus wants to remove that burden.
Take steps this week not to embellish the truth, just speak as truthfully as you can. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Turn to Jesus for help in that. Your life will be simpler and your mind won’t be clogged up with trying to remember who you told what. Remember God’s promise;
Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Have a great week, remember to keep things simple. Next week we’ll talk about retribution and getting even. From there we explore how we treat those we don’t care much for. We will close out with looking in a mirror and asking the question; “Are we who we say we are?” That will close out our Winter Bible Study and we will look toward Easter, the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Have a great week.