Honest To God?

James 5:12 (NIV)
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
James was the brother of Jesus and he echoes his brother’s words that He spoke in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.​ – Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)​

What is the big deal about swearing oaths?  Is it really a big deal to say, “I swear it’s true!”  Will I be condemned for saying, “I swear on a stack of Bibles ten feet tall!”?  What about marriage vows or swearing an oath in court?  Am I in trouble for promising to God that I will be faithful to my spouse until death do us part?  The answer is no.
In Jesus’ and James’ day, people casually swore many oaths to indicate that they were being honest.  If someone swore an oath in the Lord’s name, it became binding because they were making God a partner in the oath.  Other than that, many oaths were not binding and people would worm their way out of them.  The issue here is honesty.  Rather than swearing up and down that what we’re saying is true, we should live lives marked by honesty.  People should be able to take you at your word.  Are you an honest person?  Or do you make up stories to make yourself look good?  Are you a truthful person?  Or do you have to remember every lie you’ve told to avoid getting caught?  Do you live with good character and integrity?  Or do you try to get away with things when no one is watching?  As followers of Jesus, we need to do better when it comes to honesty and integrity and that’s the truth.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are the very definition of Truth.  Help me today to live with honesty and integrity.  I am sorry for the lies I’ve told.  Help me to be truthful and honest.  I need Your forgiveness and ask that You would convict me of the need to be truthful in every circumstance.  Thank You for Your Truth.  In Your name I pray, amen.

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