James 5:12 KJV
12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
So far, we have discussed joy in tribulation, faith unwavering, wisdom from God, doing the word and not just hearing, the importance of works, tongue trouble, patience, and many other subjects since we started in the book of James. So many of these things seem so critical to our Christian walk and must be practiced as a part of our service to one another. Many involve mercy and forgiveness , which are at the center of God’s heart. So why does James say “above all things” at the beginning of this particular point?
Let’s look at what James is saying before we address that question. First, he tells us not to swear, or make an oath, by heaven, or earth, or any other oath for that matter. He is not just talking about swearing though, but also about making oaths that are flippant and casual. Secondly, he say our yeas should be yeas and our nays should be nays. In other words, we should do what we say. As I look at these two things, I see that both of them have to do with our integrity, which is of the utmost importance to God.
Above all things do not swear. Do you realize how important your language is to God? We have talked about the tongue before and just skimmed over this part of it. God is concerned with every word that proceeds out of our mouth. And He is very concerned if we keep our bar room vocabulary going when we are trying to be witnesses for Him. There should be no place in the Christians vocabulary for idle words, and I would submit to you that any swear word that comes out of your mouth is unnecessary. They are superlative words that can easily be left out of any sentence they are used in and the meaning of the sentence will not be changed even a little bit.
They are also nasty sounding words all by themselves. I can’t stand vulgar language. T me, if a Christian is using this kind of language, Gd does not have a very high place in their lives. Their witness is effected by this type of language, as the world just sees someone else who professes to love God, but speaks like everyone who doesn’t. I had a Christian friend, my best friend, who was going through a hard time. While he was struggling, his vocabulary went downhill. We talk often on the phone, and I got to the point that I just could not listen anymore. I emailed him and told him the problem, and after he thought about it , he was grateful I had brought this to his attention. He told me when he first got saved, he told the Lord tat this type of language would not come out of is mouth again. He was unaware it had gotten so bad again. God did care about his language. But that is not the main reason God wants swearing gone from our lips.
Even back in James’ day, people would use the God’s name in vain by randomly inserting it in sentences as if it was just a nasty adjective of description. You know what I mean – G.. D… this or that. We hear it all the time. Using God’s name like this lessens it’s power in the eyes of the world. If we, as Christians, use His name this way, we are telling the world that we can throw out the name of our God at any time, and it really doesn’t matter. No Christian should ever use God’s name like this – it is a classic example of using His name in vain, or in a useless manner. It is the third commandment given of the 10 so it carries as much weight as murdering or adultery. It is serious offense.
In addition to that, we now have the name of Jesus, the most powerful name in the universe, and it has also become a cruse word to the World. This is one I used to use all the time when I as in the world, throwing it around like it was just a word. Isn’t it odd how we use that name s a curse word, but not Muhammad, or Buddha, or any other God? We have more respect for those names than we do for the name of Jesus! His name falls under the third commandment as well.
How is our tongue? Is it under control in this area? Do you need to ask God for forgiveness for using His name, or the name of Jesus, in vain? Listen to yourself, or ask someone else for an analysis if you are not sure. Take care of this today and honor God.
The next point James make is to let your ye be yea and your nay be nay. He is taking about making commitments to God and to each other here. This is another area where our mouths can get us in trouble. We say we will do something and we don’t get it done or we forget about it. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this point. I ask God for forgiveness on this all to often. I also ask my wife for forgiveness all too often because I say I will do something and I don’t get it done.
Do you think it is pleasing to God when we tell someone we will pray for them and then we forget about it? Or if we make a commitment to help someone with a project and then we have something else come up and back out? What does this say about our Christian witness? We would be better off not to make the promise or commitment. Or do we tell someone else (including our children) that they should not do something, and then we go ahead and do it ourselves? Do we tell them no only to turn around and make it a yes for ourselves?
We always have to keep in mind that God is a promise keeper! What He says He will do, He does – His yea is a yea! The things He says we should not do, He does not do – His nay is a nay! We are supposed to be like Him, or at least striving for that goal. Let’s make sure that we are fulfilling the things we are supposed to do, and not doing those things that tell others they soul not do. Let’s be people of our word!
One scripture to leave you with: Palm 19:14 says