Let Your ‘Yes’ Mean ‘Yes’


In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns against vowing anything when we make a promise. A vow is something very large. It is something that bears the full weight of our eternal souls. He counsels us, rather, to develop the habit of always speaklng truthfully. “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

If I say ‘Yes’ when I mean ‘No,’ I am telling a lie, no matter what my reasons for doing so. To lie is to manipulate the other for one’s own purposes. It defies reality. To lie is to serve the evil one, and in doing so we deny the Author of reality and, therefore, all that is true. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6) To develop the habit of lying, even in small things, is to invite terrible consequences upon one’s self, both in this life and in eternity. The author Jane Hamilton recognizes this in the first paragraph of her novel. “A Map of the World.”

“I used to think if you fell from grace it was more likely than not the result of one stupendous error, or else an unfortunate accident. I hadn’t learned that it can happen so gradually you don’t lose your stomach or hurt your self in the landing. You don’t necessarily sense the motion. I’ve found it takes at least two and generally three things to alter the course of a life: You slip around the truth once, and then again, and one more time, and there you are, feeling, for a moment, that it was sudden, your arrival at the bottom of the heap.” Let us, then, practice the art of truth telling: Let our ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and our ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ In being truthful to ourselves and to others we will be living in accord with God who is The Truth in all things.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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