Sugar-coating the merits
Week beginning: 24th September, 2017 | By Tom Cordrey | London
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but fulfil 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 […] All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)
The blessed simplicity of Jesus' teaching! The Jewish leaders had developed elaborate ways of deceiving people whilst retaining a clear conscience: one example was that if they swore by the temple altar they considered themselves not to be bound by it, but if they swore by the gift on the altar, they were bound (Matt 23:18). Jesus cut straight through it: all you need to say is simply 'yes' or 'no'. Then there is no room for slippery behaviour.
Although we may see some oaths in our professional work (the witness who says "I swear on my life I didn't see it!"), it may be rare for the average LCF member to resort to swearing in this way. That does not mean this passage is irrelevant. It may have got to the point where we've made so many broken promises that colleagues or clients or our families (or God) no longer believe or expect us to abide by our yes and our no.
And what about a sugar-coated assessment of the merits of a case? Or a deliberately ambiguous e-mail intended to buy you wriggle-room? Or the agreement to an impossibly optimistic deadline? Even if these are well-intentioned, they all have the capacity to deceive.
Today is an opportunity to start afresh. Let's start making our yes, our yes and our no, our no.
1. If there are areas where a fresh start is needed in your own life bring them the Lord and seek his mercy, forgiveness and wisdom.
2. Give thanks for our young lawyers and pray for them as they make decisions in their working life, often against the prevailing culture, that they may be able to honour God without compromise.