‘”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
How can a commitment be freeing? Don’t commitments limit us to following through with them? Let’s explore that.
Jesus tells us not to swear or make oaths. But why? One reason a person might feel the need to make an oath is that they have broken a commitment in the past and they want to convince people that they won’t this time. There is a deeper invitation here. Jesus is inviting us to stick to our commitments in such a way that everyone begins to trust our simple yes or no. The question that follows is, how do we order our lives in such a way that we can stick to our commitments?
The freedom of commitment comes when we are confident enough in our decisions that we don’t waver. That level of confidence requires life clarity. It is literally less taxing for our brain to function when it has clarity. The neuroscience is fascinating on this! Your mind would be more free and soul be more at peace if you could eliminate some of those decisions in advance by knowing what you want to focus on.
What other factors make it difficult for us to simply say yes or no? In addition to a lack of clarity we have our own wiring that battles against our commitments. If we are adventurous we struggle saying yes because we want to keep our options open. What if the next option is more exciting? If we are people pleasers we may struggle to say no and therefore end up dropping the ball on a commitment simply because we can’t juggle everything we’ve said yes to.
Can you think of a time you’ve broken a commitment? What was behind that broken promise? How can you become the kind of person who follows through with commitments? Do you need to write a set of life values to make your decisions easier? Do you need to say no even if you feel like it might let someone down? Or do you simply need to commit to something even if something better might come up? You will be more free if you can let your yes be yes and your no be no.
By Aaron Bjorklund