Have you ever heard (or used) the saying, “I swear” when someone is trying to prove a point or proclaim their confidence in something? It might go something like this. “I swear, that sign was yellow the other day!” Think about it. What does it mean to swear? No, I’m not talking about naughty language. I mean swearing an oath. You might think, “I’m not taking an oath with anyone that the sign was yellow! It’s just a saying…” Well, that may be some people’s way of looking at it, but it’s not God’s way.
Here’s the definition for the word, “swear:”
“Swear” –verb- To make a solemn statement or promise undertaking to do something or affirming that something is the case: “he swore to obey the rules.”
Whether you realize it or not, by using the word “swear” you’re making a solemn statement that the sign was yellow. That sounds ridiculous to me. So why do we do it? Your response might be, “I don’t know… people just say it.” But I think there’s a bit more to it than that. Don’t you think it sounds just a bit “cooler” to use the word “swear” than just, “I thought that sign was yellow the other day!”? It seems to be that we use it to give a bit more power to ourselves in what we’re saying. But really, is this a good enough reason to use it? I don’t think so. Especially after looking at what Scripture has to say about it.
“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” – James 5:12
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘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, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” – Matthew 5:33-37
I think that pretty much settles it, don’t you? Jesus Himself told us not to make an oath at all. Even if it is by heaven, we are not to take an oath! Simply put, don’t use “I swear” when trying to prove your point. Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Why? Because Jesus said so. I think that’s a good enough reason.
Sadly, I see people using this everywhere in modern Christian teen circles. People use it like it’s no big deal and move on. Almost no-one “curses,” though. Why? Because nobody in the Christian circles does it. The Bible says not to let any corrupting talk come out of your mouth (Ephesians 4:29), but no-one seems to realize that the Bible addresses taking oaths, too! It’s made so clear in the Bible, yet it’s not something anyone cares about if you do it. Then again, the same seems to be true for gossip, chasing love (see the “Love Unawakened” posts “1” and “2”), and many other contaminated qualities. Our generation definitely needs a wake-up call from God in my opinion (See my “A Personal Call” series for more details. Here’s “Part 1“).
I’ll admit, it’s not something easy to completely eliminate from your vocabulary; especially if you use it all the time. I personally almost never use it, but I was surprised to catch myself saying it right in front of my friends last Saturday. To those who heard me use it then (or ever), I’m sorry. I should not be using that, and I will continue to try to completely eliminate it from my life. I do not normally use it, but I guess it slipped out. Again I am sorry; to those who have heard me say it and to God. It is pointless and wrong, as the Scriptures have made clear, and is something I believe all of us need to be watching ourselves for in our casual conversations. I don’t believe that it defines a person’s validity as a Christian, but it is something Jesus told us not to do, and therefore must be eliminated from our lives.