Friday, December 5, 2008

SOTM 24: Murderous Elder

33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

--Matthew 5:33-37

I heard a story about an elder of a church who was having an affair. In order to avoid the scandal and maintain his upstanding religious and moral reputation he murdered his wife. He hoped to do so in a way that would stage his innocence. The Pharisees understood that some oaths were more binding than others. If you swore by the temple this was not binding but if you swore by the gold of the temple it was. But Jesus is teaching us that all things are his. All things reflect his beauty and glory. In other words, acts done in secret are no different than those done in public. He sees it all. If a tree falls in the forest and no one else is around, it makes a sound after all. And in case anyone's confused, it's wrong to murder your wife even if no one finds out.
The story of our murderous elder illustrates well for us the powerful effects of legalism. He rightfully assumed that knowledge of his affair would be a crushing blow to his reputation. Jesus would not challenge this. In the previous passage Jesus highlights the severity of divorce and adultery. But then he goes on to the heart of the matter. Those of you, he says, who have stayed faithful in marriage must not think you're good to go. The issue, even with marriage, is of integrity. Your "yes" should be "yes" and your "no" be "no" with regards to faithfulness and adultery respectively. But your "yes" should be "yes" and your "no" be "no" in all areas of life. To draw a wedge so deeply between the commitment of marital faithfulness and all other commitments encourages a lack of integrity that ultimately undermines marital faithfulness itself.


  • yup, yup. Keep it up. It's wrong - no matter who sees or knows. However, God is available and willing to forgive if the sinner will repent.

    Keep up your blog!

    By Blogger Paul Ford, At December 6, 2008 at 7:40 AM  

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