Let Your Yes Mean Yes

It’s happening.

Gray hair is sprinkling into my temples.

As we all do, I’m getting older. But in today’s verse, Jesus uses the inevitable aging process to show us something. Something key about the character of a disciple.

How many times have you said something like, “I swear to God it’s true…” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us simply: let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.

And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply “Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:36–37

So what’s going on here?

3 Ways Jesus Calls Us Higher

First, Jesus takes our word to another level. Because he shows us our commitment to doing what we say is a direct window into who we really are. It’s a mirror for our integrity.

Our commitment to doing what we say is a direct window into who we really are. Click To Tweet

Second, Jesus reminds us we only have power over our actions—not over anything greater we would swear by. That is why disciples are not to evoke a “higher power” to help people trust they’ll make good on their commitments.

Let Your Yes Be Yes Graphic

Matthew Henry said we should live with “such a constant regard to truth as would render oaths unnecessary.”

Third, swearing by greater powers comes from the “evil one.” Remember Jesus’s description of the Devil in John 8:44? He said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Notice that lying, or breaking oaths, is part of his nature. When he speaks, he cannot be trusted.

But as disciples, we embody Jesus’s character. And he is named “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11).

Let Your Yes Mean Yes

So our questions today are:

  1. Why do you make promises by appealing to a higher authority?
  2. Jesus shows us a simple way of being true. How would fully committing to your yeses and no’s make your life look different?
  3. Do you let your yes mean yes?
  4. When was the last time you broke your word? Seek forgiveness from this person and make it right. Tell them you’re doing so because Jesus shows us a higher way.

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