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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

9th Way to Delight in the Lord

As a child, I thought the 10 Commandments were simply a set of rules to follow. Then, I discovered I couldn't keep the rules, leading me to Christ for my righteousness. Then, the 10 Commandments no longer condemn, but show us the character of God. As a believer, I can look to these laws to see how to please the Father. For if Christ never once violated these laws, and my desire is to look more like Him, then these laws help me know Him.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

We all strive to be that person who can say, My word is my bond. However, we also tend to approach issues of honesty from a relative perspective. If I am more honest than others, then I am a man of integrity. I've actually heard people back away from this commandment by claiming that it's formal language suggests only court proceedings. As long as I have not committed perjury, then I cannot be found guilty of false witness?

Often, we allow our tongue to back us into a corner, and then we are left with only a couple of options. We can claim our words were not binding, but were actually meant in jest (A practice the Proverbs condemn.) Or, we can claim that we meant our promise, but circumstances have changed, excusing us from our pledge (Which is a great plan, except Ecclesiastes shoots that one down.) In Matthew 5, Jesus states we should simply say, "yes, yes" and "no, no." While I do believe the person of integrity will be able to make statements without having to take it to the level of an oath, I do not believe that was Jesus' central point. (I'm flying over Matthew 5, not because it isn't pertinent, but because I plan to do another series soon on this beautiful chapter. Can't give too much away too early!) Consider the words of James:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

Without a doubt, a statement intended to deceive another violates God's standards. But a committment I make, without consideration of circumstances or abilities (for instance, even my ability to remember making the committment) also reveals an improper heart condition. I've been guilty of this far too often; believing I have everything under control.

As believers, our concern should not be simply to keep our word as much as we can. Our desire should be to not give our word at all. In these moments of conversation, we have an opportunity to glorify God in just one way He trandscends us. I can not really give my word, for so little is actually in my control. He however, can fully give His word, and we can rest upon it, for He is in absolute control.

Paradoxically, a chapter some misunderstand to say God does not keep His promises, gives us some of the greatest words as to God's sovereignty:

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

People will either think God is in control or that I am. They will not think both. It's my responsibility to give the true testimony as to Who is in control.

[Other commandments: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10]


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