Monday, September 20, 2010

You Swear?

The age old question of trust seems to start at an early age. You can imagine the child jumping into the pool for the first time after they graduate from their water wings and are terrified they will sink like a rock. Some kids have this fear even wearing the water wings. As they inch up to the edge of that pool, you can see the fear in their face. They ask the question any sensible human would to their parent, “Do you promise to catch me?” The parent can say simply “Yes,” but that is not really enough for that terrified child. They need to have the promise they will be caught. It is fun to laugh at the child’s unbelief because you know it will be okay, but do we not show the same doubt in God sometimes in our life? When God says he will do something, why do we doubt?

James wrote, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (5:12). Where does doubt come from? Doubt is the spawn of fear. The child is scared because they know if the parent does not catch them they could drown in the water. We hesitate sometimes in our lives for the sake of Christ because we are scared of sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving something up. Satan has fooled us once again to think we are barely making it so we do not have any wiggle room to sacrifice for God. Are you scared the sacrifices Christianity calls you to make will not be worth it? Maybe you are scared because you fell for Satan’s deception that you do not have room for sacrifice so you are afraid. Paul wrote, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is from Satan.

James echoed his brother Jesus Christ when he wrote about swearing, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil” (Matt. 5:34). If Christians are not the kind of people that others can believe their word, what does that say about the founder of our faith, Jesus Christ? Next time someone asks you to go beyond your “Yes” or “No” and promise, ask yourself if this is based on their own fear or your track record of keeping your word. Let us live lives that people believe us when we simply say “Yes” or “No.”


shallowfrozenwater said...

what about affirming if you are called into court? i've asked myself this question and i've wondered what i'd do if i were ever asked to swear an oath in court.

Casey said...

That's a good point. I'd say since James is writing to Christians, he is talking about giving your word to another Christian. Christians cannot expect the secular world to understand or uphold the values we live by. When we sign contracts for jobs, it is the same thing as going beyond a simple "yes I'll work for you." To let the world know we mean business we may need to make promises or swear in court, but live life so those closest to you (especially fellow Christians) can believe your simple "yes."