Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’But I tell you, do not swear an oath 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. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37
Decision-making is a skill that requires practice – this is why a learner’s permit is required before a 16-year-old can experience full driving privileges. A student driver is learning to make high stakes decisions. As a driver, you have to be decisive. You either step on the gas or hit the brake. You can’t do both. Hesitation can get you killed.
Jesus offers strong words in His sermon recorded for us in Matthew 5. He covers many topics and among them is a small section that I labeled in my Bible with the words, “decision-making.”
Jesus is not calling us to be rash in our decisions, but rather to be clear. We need to be decisive in what we say and what we mean. Then we have to take it a step further and do what we said we would do. In our culture, we utilize vague language and indecision to buy time, manipulate circumstances, or just plain blow someone off.
I believe this is part of our problem with indecision. We hesitate. We don’t commit. What if we have a better offer? What if doing one thing will cause us to miss out on something else? “What if” is the question of the day so we keep things vague. Maybe, possibly, kind of, and the list goes on.
Our actions make us distrustful of one another and guarded in our relationships. It is difficult to commit because it is difficult to trust. It is difficult to trust because it is difficult to commit. So we hesitate, and the cycle continues.
Jesus’ charge in Matthew 5 is very pointed. Playing games with our words and our commitments should be taken seriously. It is ‘of evil’, Jesus says. The reason He is so harsh regarding our hesitation in making decisions is two-fold: (1) We are either being deceptive or (2) We are unwilling to take responsibility for our words. Both of these lack the character of Christ, whose image we are supposed to reflect.
This passage does not forbid taking the necessary time to process decisions or seeking wise counsel. Instead, Jesus addresses our unwillingness to take responsibility or manipulate a situation to work in our favor. It could involve withholding truth or being deceptive (these are the same thing).
Knowing where our eyes are set is critical to confronting our motives and behaviors. The eyes of a fool focus on the ends of the earth and the pulse of what everyone else thinks. They are trying to please or to one-up everyone else. The eyes of the discerning remain fixed on Christ, and Jesus calls us to make a decision.
Bring your decision to Him. If it is a big enough decision to cause you to worry, then it is a big enough decision to bring to Christ. Don’t hesitate or manipulate, ask. His Spirit brings Truth to our minds and guides us in applying this knowledge. So pray, trust, and decide!
- Where are you struggling with indecision or making your “yes” be yes?
Lord, I lay this decision before You. I ask for wisdom and guidance. Give me the understanding to know what to do and the courage to take those steps. Let my yes be yes and my no be no. I will no longer languish in no man’s land because I refuse to take responsibility. I will not allow my indecision to jeopardize my integrity. Thank You for Your challenge to decide. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.