12. a. The Pharisees had extensive rules about making religious vows.
If a person always tells the truth and keeps his promises, there would be no need to have specific rules that govern which ones we actually have to abide by.
Jesus is saying we should always speak the truth and no extra verbal steps should be necessary.
b. We will give an account of the words that come out of our mouths.
Words have creative power. When God said, “Let there be light” (literally, “light be”), it was so. When Jesus said, “Take up your bed and walk,” the man responded in faith, and he was healed.
We shouldn’t speak words we don’t want to come to pass, such as, “I was worried sick” or “You’ll catch your death of cold”. My dad often says, “I almost had a coronary!” Or “I’m going to end up in the poor house!), because he is always worried about money.
The worries, fears, anger, resentment, etc. in our hearts sneak out of our mouths.
We use so many phrases like “I mean it”. Here are some of the others I’ve noticed:
- Trust me…(That sends up a red flag every time I hear it.)
- To be honest…(Very popular now)
- To tell you the truth…(One person I know jokingly follows that statement with, “because I lied to you before”)
- Believe it or not…
- I swear…
- …and that’s the truth!
There must be more. What did you come up with?
The book of James speaks of how difficult it is to control our tongue. “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
Out of curiosity, I searched for references to “tongue” and “tongues” in the NASB via BibleGateway.com. There are 140.
Jesus reminds us that as important as our words are, we need our hearts fixed. Then our tongue will speak words of life
c. I’m frustrated with what comes out of my mouth and desiring to change.
This has been on my heart, so the opportunity to delve into what the Word says about our (my) words proved timely. That’s not exactly what the question asked, but I believe it is the point.
Past rashly made vows come to mind, but it is no longer possible to keep some of them. I doubt I can even remember all of them. I’ve confessed them to the Lord, and He has forgiven me.
I made vows back when I thought I had to and could earn God’s love. I now refrain from making them. I am also cautious about making promises to others.
13. a. As much as it depends on me*, my relationships will prosper if I do not repay evil with evil. *Romans 12:18
I do have a tendency to maintain walls between myself and others who have hurt me in the past—partly due to holding a grudge and partly due to feeling a need to protect myself from them in the future. Relationships are a tricky thing. I’m trying very hard not to live in the past and ruminate on what I should have said or done differently. The important thing, I believe, is to forgive whether it is possible to reconcile or not.
b. Cause my enemies to be at peace with me.
14. After muddling through the following—
trying to pick out what they wanted us to get at—I decided the subject verse Matthew 5:48 in the Amplified version was more helpful: “You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- Galatians 5:16—Spirit led
- Ephesians 4:22-24—renewed thinking and acting
- Philippians 2:12-13—pleasing to God
- Philippians 4:8—mind fixed on virtuous and praise-worthy things