But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. - James 5:12
James is calling out believers here to always be truthful. We live in a world filled with distrust because promises are broken every day. You just have to look to the number of divorces in our world to see a mountain of broken promises to love until death, and that’s only one type of promise. Our culture tells us it’s okay to break promises if we have a good enough reason, but James is reminding us here that as believers, we can not. We are not to break a promise, for any reason, or we are to fall under condemnation.
When James says, “Do not swear” here, he is not referring to taking the Lord’s name in vain, but rather referring to using the Lord’s name to exclaim truth: I swear to God it’s true. As a believer in Christ, your words should simply always be true - so true, in fact, that the people in your life would never need you to swear by God something is true. James is calling you to live your life in such a way that no one would every question your word as true.
Just a point of clarity - James is not saying we cannot take oaths, but is instead referring to the false oaths that were commonplace at the time in Jewish culture. As believers, we are only to engage in oaths that are meaningful and truthful.
When you make a promise to another, you should not only have every intention to fulfill that promise, but do everything in your power to ensure that you keep your word. Far too often in this world, when things get challenging, we walk away and choose the easier path. And the world supports this decision as it justifies our reasons for walking away from our commitments. Be careful to surround yourselves with Godly friends who will encourage you to honor your promises - those friends are hard to come by. It’s much easier in the world to find friends who will help you justify your reasons for walking away when it’s hard. Keeping our promises is not always easy, but it is always honoring to God.
God is truth, and He wants His people to represent His truth. As a professed believer in Christ, every time you open your mouth, you represent Him. As His representative your words need to be truthful at all times. People are watching you as a believer, and making judgments about who God is to you every single day. Your level of integrity teaches others about who God is to you, even and especially when it’s hard.
It is in the difficult process of keeping our promises that God really goes to work on our hearts. Oftentimes, to keep a promise, we have to surrender our own pride and humble ourselves to others, showing grace and mercy instead of walking away. We may have to surrender the way we would like something to work out, and allow another person’s needs to take precedence over our needs as a demonstration of love without condition. Perhaps the most challenging is how often we may be faced with a huge forgiveness in our effort to keep a promise. In every case, He knows the only way to keep those promises is complete surrender to Him. God calls us to keep His promises because He knows there is goodness for us in the struggle to keep that promise, there are blessings for us in the surrender, and there is such sweetness in the commitments we choose to honor after the struggle is over.
Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Be truthful in all that you say. When we knowingly and intentionally break a promise or speak falsely, that’s when we will face condemnation. But when we stick with our promises, when we intentionally go after integrity in our hearts, we enjoy the abundant blessings He has for us as He grows us to be more and more like Him.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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