Have you ever been untrusted and wanted someone to believe you? Why do we want to be trusted? Trust is associated with respect and privilege. We want that. From the playground to the prison, the sanctuary to the street—we want that. Trust me…
Once in awhile someone at the church will drop my name. If a person is doing something they are not supposed to be doing they will say, “Pastor Kevin said it was okay” or “He asked me to do this.” I have had people that know better and complete strangers drop my name attempting to gain access or privilege. Using my name is one thing—what about people who drop God’s name to get what they want?
Jesus spoke about our need to secure the trust of others.
33 “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.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
‘Name dropping’ is the practice of using your association with someone important to gain access or privilege. How are we guilty of God’s Namedropping? Do we ever try and build our reputation or secure trust by letting people know that ‘God is my witness so you should trust me’?
It was ancient custom to swear by a deity to ensure that your word could be trusted. It was understood that if you broke your promise, you would experience consequence and possibly curses from the god. A person was saying that they were willing to risk punishment from the gods if they did not fulfill their oath.
Jesus’ Jewish audience was reminded of their ancient practice of making vows and oaths to God. More than one Old Testament story dealt with people making promises and being obligated to keep it to their own demise. Other stories dealt with deception being used to secure a promise of blessing or benefit. You might think that the moral of the stories would be enough to warn them against making rash vows.