But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Why is God concerned with swearing by an oath? It seems like a strange point for James to drive home on? But if it didn’t have significance for our lives (Jesus teaches the same in Matt 5:33-37), it wouldn’t be in the Word of God.
The issue here is two-fold. The first is integrity, the second is judgment.
Integrity is when people see what they get and get what they see. To be someone who needs to swear or add anything to their word, it points to a lack of integrity.
Are you going to be truthful? Or can we only rely on your word when you add an external, additional weight to it in the form of an oath?
Jesus and James write, let your yes mean yes and let your no mean no. When you speak be a speaker of truth, because everything you say you say before the hearing of our God. And that should be all the motivation you need to not embrace anything less than the truth.
Secondly, we are taught not to make oaths or swear by anything because doing so brings upon our lives judgment.
Anytime we swear, make an oath or even an inner vow we are committing ourselves to that. Jesus tells us soberly that for every word we speak carelessly we will need to give an account (Matthew 12:36).
When we say “I swear, I will never do… “ or “I promise I am going to… “ or “I’ll never be…” we are committing ourselves to a course of action by the power of our word and will. This can result in terrible consequences as we either bind ourselves to a damaging direction in life or we throw away our word flippantly, without consideration, and will be judged for doing so.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
PRAYER: Father, I receive your word to be a person who embraces truth. I commit to you my words and tongue that I might reflect Jesus in all that I say. I ask you for the grace to do this, in Jesus name Amen.