The Worth of One’s Word 

The Worth of One’s Word 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

Brent Pollard

I am not seeking to get into a debate about the outcome of the 2020 general election. However, everyone can agree that Trump has insisted that he won the election and has a team of lawyers trying to prove it. Again, whether he is correct is not my point. However, I wish to point out that Trump’s lawyers offer the affidavits from a few hundred people as evidence of voter fraud. For example, there are 220 affidavits in Michigan alone. I understand that most news outlets have moved on and ignored Trump’s legal team’s efforts.  

Yet, lying on an affidavit is perjury. It is as if you have lied on the witness stand in court while under oath. Perjury is a felony. In many states, felons cannot even vote. So, in Michigan, and other States, hundreds of people testify something that, if false, would make them criminals and, ironically, prevent them from voting in an election in the future. Here is the question. Do people care about lying anymore? We have a former President who was impeached but not convicted for committing perjury because the subject matter of his lie concerned sexual relations with his intern. People dismissed it as political maneuvering by Republicans about a private matter, “just sex.”  

To say, “A man’s word is his bond,” is no longer fashionable, it seems. When did you last have a “verbal contract” with someone? So, it would not surprise me that people would ignore the affidavits of hundreds of people. We are so accustomed to people lying for political expediency that we believe people would become felons to achieve their political goals.  I would hope that Christians give greater value to their words. Indeed, Jesus told us that our testimony is our bond.  

In Matthew five, Jesus discusses how the men of his day diluted their promises with unnecessary verbiage. In reading about the culture of first-century Judea, I noted that if a man wanted to create a loophole for himself, he would swear by something temporary, like his head’s hair. However, if he were making a promise he intended to keep, he would swear by the Temple or something invoking God. Jesus says, “But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.” (Matthew 5.37 NASB) Jesus reminded them that the principle they were violating was that one must keep his vow to the Lord (Matthew 5.33).  

The wise man of God reminds us that it is better to make no promise at all than to promise and fail to keep our word (Ecclesiastes 5.4-5). Under the Old Law, Moses commanded, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to put himself under a binding obligation, he shall not break his word; he shall act in accordance with everything that comes out of his mouth” (Numbers 30.2 NASB). The judge, Jephthah, learned this the hard way. Jephthah made a foolish vow to God that he would offer as a sacrifice whatever met him at his house when returning victorious from battle (Judges 11.30-31). Little did Jephthah know that it would be his daughter who would first greet him upon his return. Judges 11.34 states that Jephthah’s daughter was his only child. Thus, Jephthah grieved when she greeted him.  

To her credit, Jephthah’s daughter told her father to keep the promise made with God (Judges 11.36). Given God’s feelings about human sacrifice (cf. Jeremiah 32.34-36), one wonders if Jephthah had to take her life. Jephthah’s daughter’s request was to bewail her virginity with her friends. Women of antiquity, sadly, established their worth by having children. She would be childless. Therefore, there is the possibility that Jephthah’s daughter lived a life of perpetual virginity since that is the emphasis of the last verses of Judges 11. There is no mention of her death.  

Yes, Jephthah kept the promise, understanding the worth of one’s words. He knew his obligation to God. Therefore, let us observe great care, as Jesus taught when making promises to others. Neither let us seek ways of getting out of our commitments. May our words always carry the weight of sworn testimony before the Judge of the Court of the Most High!  

Sources Consulted 

Hurd, Dale. “Where’s the Evidence of Election Fraud? Trump Legal Team Delivers Opening Arguments.” CBN News, The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., 20 Nov. 2020, www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2020/november/wheres-the-evidence-of-election-fraud-trump-legal-team-delivers-it

Spengler, Teo. “What Is the Penalty for a False Affidavit?” Legal Beagle, Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, 18 May 2020, legalbeagle.com/7642670-penalty-false-affidavit.html

File:150306-D-AF077-067 (16736531555).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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