I Swear, I’ll Change…
Matthew 5:33-37 You have heard that it was said… You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all… Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
It is a universal response when confronted with the consequences of our destructive behavior to swear by heaven and earth that we will never repeat our mistakes again. We promise ourselves and our loved ones that things will be different next time. We swear that there will not be a next time as we are truly reformed. I really promise this time. I will never do that again. I’m a changed man…
I have been there. I have looked my loved ones in the eyes and sworn that I would never again engage in my addictive behaviors. It was not that I was purposely lying to them, it was just that my words were hollow as they were not accompanied by any actual change. I thought I meant the words, I just did not mean them enough to go through the pain of transformation.
So, I swear and I promise. Then, when those around me have the audacity to doubt, I am truly offended. This too, is a universal response I think. I swear to myself that I have changed, even though it has not really happened yet, and then I expect those around me to believe it. I have seen so many sitting in jail or treatment respond with resentment to loved ones who just are not quite willing to swallow the radical transformation. I may have just hurt someone yesterday, but today, if I say I am sorry and promise to change, I expect others to just accept it. When they do not, I am hurt and angry.
To this, Jesus says, Do not swear an oath to be different. Just be different. It is not my hollow words that convince others of my transformation, particularly if I have been a repeat offender. It is only my transformation itself that will convince them. My dutiful response to the destruction I have caused is not to try and convince others that I have changed. My duty is to actually change.
Change is not easy. It requires sacrifice and hard work to daily deny self and follow God. It is only through doing this daily, for a long time, that others will come to see and believe in the transformation.
I no longer try to convince anyone with empty promises and oaths. The evidence of my transformation does not lie in my words, it lies in the way I live my life. Do I daily follow self or do I follow God? Those around me will know the difference.