Promises and Pie Crust

Matthew 5:37

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew Chapter 5 is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus simply spells out how to live a righteous and Godly life.  I have already written a post about this historic oracle and will have more to write in the future.

Today’s post will cover the simple truth Christ has given us in this one verse.

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

In verses 33 thru 36, Christ tells us not to swear or make an oath, and verse 37 tells us to simply answer yes or no.  Keep it simple stupid.  If you’re righteous and live righteously, the truth is what comes out and therefore yes and no will suffice.

But why not take an oath or swear by some other person, place of thing?

You’ve heard the phrases: “Promises are made to be broken.”?  When I thought of this phrase I decided to try and find out where it originated.  I learn by delving into my own questions.  What I learn may not serve an immediate purpose, but it may come in handy some day when I’m watching Jeopardy.

The original phrase traces back to 1681 and a piece of literature titled, Heraclitus ridens redivivus, written by Thomas Brown.  Here is the excerpt:

He makes no more of breaking Acts of Parliament, than if they were like promises and pie crust, made to be broken…

Jonathan Swift then popularized the expression in his book, Polite Conversations:

…promises and pie crust are made to be broken…

This is what Christ is telling us 1700 years before Thomas Brown first penned the words.

Man is flawed and imperfect.  Our nature is for self-preservation and we will say, with the best of intentions, whatever can keep us safe and comfortable.  Man is not as smart as we think.  We do not have a complete understanding of most things in life, much less all things in life.  We will always fall short of some expectations and so to swear to God, or heaven, or earth, or our children, or our souls, is just setting ourselves up to fail.

To swear, take oaths and make elaborate promises demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in ourselves and each other.  When one may ask us, did you do this or will you do that, a yes or no is enough.  But in order to convince ourselves and others, and alleviate skepticism, we swear an oath.

What do we swear to? Not our house or our car, not to worldly possessions.  We swear to spiritual things, like God, heaven or the souls of our children, parents, or ourselves.  This is done to convince others of our truthfulness.  But is shows a lack of respect and a lack of faith in the spirit.

As we swear these oaths on our spiritual world, they become less meaningful until we willing use them as a manner of deceit.  We say anything to get out of a jam.  Our words become meaningless and righteousness is lost.

So when asked about a task or a request, a simple yes or no is all you need to say.  Ideally we should be truthful and honest in all we do and our word is our oath.  The elaborate oaths are just pomp and circumstance that leads to failure and deceit.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s