Verse: James 5:12
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.
Ah, James. He’s so tender-hearted. “Be careful with your commitments, or you will BE CONDEMNED!” Got to love a guy who says what he means, right? Seriously though, this is one of his great one-liner wisdom statements, that can be applied to life at any point in history. And the thing is, while it may seem harsh, isn’t this what we all want from our friends? Who sits around wishing they had friends who didn’t speak the truth or follow through on their commitments?
James knows the importance of this for forming an authentic community, and he doesn’t really have time to beat around the bush. They are being hunted and persecuted, so yeah, he’s kind of intense when it comes to making sure our community is strong, and our word is sure. Today I want to give you three questions to ask yourself as a test about your words. Let’s see how we do:
Do you keep your word?
The only people who can really answer this question are those that know you best. If you are feeling brave, as a few! This probably isn’t a very easy self-assessment. But it’s the little things that really add up here. Do you keep your word to your kids when you promise to do something with them? Do you honor your commitments to friends, or are you known as “the guy who always backs out at the last minute?” If you say you’ll wash the dishes, do you? I know those are all pretty small beans, but they establish a history of credibility that you can build upon for more important things.
Do you say what you mean?
This one can be hard for me. Do you say what you mean, or do you say what you think others want you to say? I’m pretty good at knowing what to say so that others will think well of me. So which is it? Am I more concerned with being liked, or being truthful? Of course, I could take that too far and be a jerk about it. That’s certainly not the point. But honesty with grace is where I’m aiming, rather than soft deception aimed at manipulating the favor of others.
Are you flippant?
This is a weird one, but I think it fits. When you speak, is there weight to it? Do people believe you? Or do you say things that you have to follow up later with, “oh I really didn’t mean that!” As someone who likes to joke a lot, I can find myself getting into trouble with this. If I’m not careful, my amazing sense of humor (and healthy self confidence!) can lead to misunderstandings at best, and broken relationships at worse. I have to be careful. Do you?
So that’s it. A short test of your words before you start your day. How did you do? Where can you focus a little effort to grow in letting your YES be YES and your NO be NO?
I pray that you would show me where I fudge my commitments and use my words flippantly God. Convict me so I can grow and become more like you!
Author: Christian Dunn