"Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't'. Anything beyond this is from the evil one." Matthew 5:37 (NLT)
"But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No" lest you fall into judgment. James 5:12 (NKJV)
I have a couple of friends I have known for a long time. They're good guys, and would go to great lengths to help one of their friends in need. As the cliche goes, they would give the shirts off of their backs, but only if you reminded them several times. You would have to send them a text the day before, and another one a couple of hours ahead of time. You would need to get a hold of their phones and put in a calendar appointment to remind them. These guys are good friends, but they're unreliable. I don't know if they're spread too thin, or have poor memories or what, but I can't always count on them. They say "yes," but it doesn't always mean "yes."
Jesus lived in a time when many people were much the same way, but on purpose. They would attempt to mislead others by saying "yes," but didn't really mean it. Eventually, other people caught on to their tricks, so they would all start trying to qualify their statements with oaths and swearing (not foul language, but promises). "Yes, I promise. I swear on my mother's life!" Eventually, it got to the point where lots of people would swear (make oaths) in an attempt to validate their statements.
Jesus didn't care much for this kind of behavior. He wants His people to live with integrity, to live with honesty, to be reliable, to be accurate in what they say and to be trustworthy. He wants His people to prove what they were saying by their character, not by their "oaths." He wants a "yes" to mean "yes" and a "no" to mean "no." This style of integrity is important enough to be repeated twice in the Bible, nearly word for word!
It all starts with character. It starts with the personal conviction to live with integrity. This is what Jesus wants for His followers. He wants His people to be reliable and trustworthy. We must have strong enough character to follow through on what we say. There are many times when we're too tired, too hungry, or too full of excuses to follow through. But, it takes character to have the discipline to get it done and it takes character to have integrity. It's not easy. It's something that I struggle with. Something that we all struggle with, but integrity is worth the struggle. It's how Jesus is. It's how we should be.
The next time you're asked to help out somewhere, to put in a bid for a job, to show up on time, to fill out your timecard, to file your taxes, or to make any kind of statement or commitment, remember to let your "yes" be "yes," and your "no" be "no." Also, remember that it's okay to say "no", but it's not okay to lack integrity, even if we don't intend to. We should always live with integrity and have the character to be trustworthy.
Character produces discipline, discipline produces consistency, consistency produces reliability, and reliability produces trust.
Posted on Tue, May 17, 2011
by Steven Valadez