The taking of oaths and telling of the truth are very important in any culture. But if truth be told, we live in a world of broken oaths and lies. In years gone by, contracts were made with a handshake, which meant you were giving your word on a matter; today we rely on formal written contracts produced by lawyers, and yet, even so, they are broken as easily as the handshakes were made years ago.
We live in a world today filled with chronic liars. People lie to the government; and the government lies to the people; politicians lie with straight faces to voters; they lie to get into office and lie once elected; many break the very laws that they are sworn to uphold. People lie to their employers, and employers lie to their workers. Husband’s lie to their wives, and wives lie to their husbands. Children lie to their parents, and parents lie to their children. In our courts and governmental offices, oaths are regularly taken and broken as if they were never made. We see the most prevalent breaking of oaths in the marriage covenant via divorce. It’s a wonder how our society survives with so many broken oaths and lies as we see today.
But what about the Christian? Do those in Christ behave any differently? Expecially when there is a cost to keeping one’s oath, are Christians permitted to bail out, just like the world? What does the Bible have to say about oaths and lies? Our text in James 5:12 directly and aggressively addresses the topic of oaths, lies, and being truthful.
James declares But above all, my brethren, do not swear, (take an oath) either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes,” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. (NKJ). Next Sunday, as we study this text in James, we will look specifically at oaths – are oaths totally prohibited from the Christian’s lips, or does this refer to specific types of oaths? Most importantly we will dwell on the truth we are to live by. Being truthful at times will cost you, but there is no other option for the believer.
James follows Jesus’ exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 5:33 – 37: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (NKJ)
This week meditate on these texts along with Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
Where and how have you fallen short in these exhortations from the Word? Where and when and to whom have you not kept your word? Is your life characterized by letting your yes be yes, and your no, no?
Please pray for us as we continue our exhortations in James. That the Word would go forth truthfully and clearly, and that it would be received openly with joy.