This verse is about a merchant weighing out a customer’s goods. When the customer pays for a gallon or for a pound, the Lord demands a gallon delivered, or a pound, and not a drop or a hair less. Don’t even begin to walk down a dishonest path.
But the command is about much more than buying and selling; it’s about honesty and truthfulness. Other verses call for truthfulness in speech (Prov 12:22), in giving testimony in court (Exod 20:16), and in treating everyone the same (Deut 16:19-20).
The religious authorities of Jesus’ day had some confusing guidelines about truthfulness. A person might explain an incident and then swear that it was the truth. If they swore by God’s name, then they were bound to tell the truth. But if they swore by their mother, or by their life, and did not mention the name of God, then they were free not to tell the truth.
Jesus said that’s ridiculous. A godly person’s character should make swearing unnecessary. If a person says it’s true, God expects it to be true—no ifs, ands, or buts (Matt 5:37). Honesty is not about how to evade our responsibility to tell the truth. It’s about the character and integrity that the Lord expects of us in everything we say and do.
A Quote to Remember
We tell lies when we are afraid . . . afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger. (Tad Williams)
Think on These Things
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord. (Ps 24:4-5, NIV)
We have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. (2 Cor 8:21, NASB)
Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. (Col 3:9, NLT)
God of truth, we praise you as the one who speaks honesty and declares what is right (Isa 45:19). Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth. Thank you for your Son, who is full of grace and truth. Thank you that you are our ultimate standard of honesty. We desire to live honestly today, and to speak truth, not for ourselves alone but for the sake of a world in which untruth has a thousand faces and an unknown number of willing adherents. Make us, we pray, the salt of honesty and the light of truthfulness. Amen.
This post originally appeared as a devotion in Gray Matters: 100 Devotions for the Aging by Edwin Ray Frazier.