“I will do that.”
“If you ask me, then I will do that.”
“I will do that, cross my heart and hope to die.”
“If you will do this, just this one time, I promise that I will do that, I swear on a stack of Bibles.”
“I know that I’ve promised a thousand times and I’ve messed up every time, but this time, I’m really, really serious, and I mean it this time, and see, my fingers aren’t crossed behind my back and this time I won’t try to weasel out if it and this time, I promise on my mother’s grave that I will do it.”
“You have to believe me; I am completely different this time. You can ask anyone, I swear to you, I will do this.”
“Please, what do I have to do for you to believe that I will do this?”
“May God strike me dead if I don’t do this.”
When Jesus started talking about oaths and about swearing in Matthew 5:33-37, he wasn’t talking about the #@%&* kind of swearing. He was talking about people who couldn’t be trusted. He was talking about people who had broken their word and so had to add support to their commitments. He was talking about people who had said that they would do something and hadn’t and then said, “This time I will, so help me God.”
He was talking about people like us.
The simplest thing to do to have people trust you is to say “yes” and then do “yes.”
Of course, in the middle of a busy day when there isn’t time to think clearly, it may be simple to say “yes” just to get the noise of requests to stop. But Jesus wanted “yes” to actually mean “yes.”
It’s about trust.
An earlier version of this post is included in Learning A New Routine: Reading the Sermon on the Mount a Little at a Time