What do you dislike about Eid?

Just stick to the truth

Matthew 5: 33-37 You have also heard that it was said to the ancients: "You shall not swear a false oath and you shall keep your oath to the Lord." But I tell you that you should not swear at all, neither by heaven for he is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor at Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. Nor should you swear by your head; for you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your speech be: Yes, yes; No no. What is above it is evil.


Impulse for the sermon text for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity: Matthew 5: 33–37. By Gerhard Schäberle-Koenigs

Gerhard Schäberle-Koenigs, who holds a doctorate in theology, is a pastor in Bad Wildbad-Aichelberg in the Neuenbürg church district. (Photo: Gisela Kahn)

Anyone who swears makes himself unbelievable! As paradoxical as that may sound, Jesus' advice not to swear at all first reveals a deception. If someone promises something “high and sacred”, if someone incessantly utters vows of love, if someone would even “put his hand in the fire”, then the greatest caution is required: is someone dealing with two different truths here? True and most definitely true?

Jesus recommends the simple truth. No more. Not less. All additions are evil.

Swearing no longer plays a major role in everyday life. Excessive religious oath formulas, in which heaven and hell punishments are conjured up, have largely disappeared. Nevertheless, there are also remnants of what was once an almost magical understanding of our colloquial expressions. "That's why I put my hand in the fire" means: If I lie, then I have to expect punishment from hell.

Jesus says: “Your speech is yes, yes and no, no. What is above it is evil. ”He says it in a world in which social coexistence was shaped by oaths of all kinds. All sorts of deities were brought into the field to affirm their own truth.

Jesus sees in the oath first of all a violation of the biblical commandment "You shall not abuse the name of the Lord your God." To use God's name for human dealings.

And in court? The oath is an important element of our administration of justice. A judge can require a witness to confirm his testimony by means of an oath. He will make him aware of what a false oath might entail beforehand. No punishment from hell, but an entirely earthly punishment: 1 to 15 years in prison. So the witness can go back to himself before he is sworn in and check whether he has really told the truth and nothing but the truth and possibly correct his testimony.

Viewed positively, the swearing-in of witnesses serves to protect against false accusations. One of the worst things that can happen to a person in court is when they are convicted on the basis of false testimony.

Can a Christian take an oath in court? Jesus' command will make him shrink from saying "I swear by God Almighty and Knowing." Current law, however, enables a witness who, for reasons of faith and conscience, does not want to take an oath at all, to merely confirm his testimony. He is then told: "Aware of your responsibility in court you affirm that you told the truth to the best of your knowledge". The witness then says: "Yes."

“Your speech is yes, yes and no, no. What is above it is evil. ”What applies in the delicate situation in court, that may also be in everyday coexistence. Jesus encourages us to stick to the simple truth.

If I have told the untruth, I cannot transform it into truth with any additional affirmation.

If I love someone, then I have many opportunities in everyday life to tell them and let them feel this. Vows of love are unnecessary.

If I make a promise, I am bound by it. If I can no longer keep it, then the only thing that helps is openness to whoever I gave it to and the request to release me from it.

Simple words are enough to tell the truth. The truth doesn't need crutches


God, you alone are Lord:
Give us the courage to answer your call
and dare to be free
to which you have called us.


From: Evangelisches Gottesdienstbuch. Agende for the EKU and the VELKD,
Verlagsgemeinschaft Evangelisches Gottesdienstbuch, Berlin, 2001, p. 397.

Evangelisches Gemeindeblatt 44/2013 | Life of faith | Text: Gerhard Schäberle-Koenigs