And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
Here is the way that The Message presents a part of this passage:
What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.Such is the strange logic of those caught up in the religious legalities. These delineate behaviors that take place inside of church from those that happen out in the world. One of my friends used to complain about how different some Christians were when he did business with them. Sadly these seem to have embraced a mentality that divorces sacred and secular behavior. Sometimes folks like these are known as Sunday morning Christians.
Jesus cuts through the religious wrangling and says that the oath or promise is not sacred because of its value (i.e. the gold backing it) but because God is present (i.e. in the Temple). This is true of everything we do. God is ever present in our lives. Our behavior should reflect that consistency.. our word should be our bond.. our character should reflect that of Christ. A promise should be a promise.
Keep me from rash promises Lord. Help me to know when to say yes and when to say no.