Believers should always be counted on to state the truth plainly.
Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. “But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; “or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. “Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. “But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.
The simplicity of this teaching cannot be overstated: simply be a person of your word. When you are asked about your motivation or actions, consider how black and white your answers should be. You should not have to appeal to other corroborating authorities; your life should be so steadfast and pure that when you are questioned about your actions or your beliefs, the simplicity of your yes or no answer will be believed.
James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.”
Echoing the words of Yeshua, James concludes that being forthright in all of one’s speech is one of the most necessary qualities of believers. In the context of the impending judgment that was about to fall upon Jerusalem, he encourages them to maintain their truthfulness by the integrity of their words and actions.
People typically have to resort to things outside themselves to “prove” that what they are saying is the truth, such as, “I swear to God,” (as if that means anything in general usage anymore) or “on my mother’s grave.” These colloquialisms demonstrate a sincerity that needs to be established on something important outside of one’s own self, some sort of reference to an outside authority or thing that is held sacred as a demonstration of the truth of a statement.
In contrast to this common way of thinking, Yeshua and James are encouraging believers to be so thoroughly imbued with integrity that their lives ARE the reference to their sincerity; when they say they have done something or are going to do something, they do it. If they say they have not done something or are not going to do something, they remain firm. There is no need to appeal to an outside authority greater than themselves to demonstrate the truth of what they are attesting to.
This type of black and white integrity is liberating. It frees one from always needing to appeal to some other reference as a means of demonstrating truth; people believe what you say simply because you have said it. You gain a reputation for being a person of your word, and that is all that is needed if any behavior or commitments have been called into question.
This is a quality sorely required in the lives of believers, because we represent the One who always does what he says. If for no other reason, a life of integrity mimics the actions of our Father, and brings honor to his name.
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