Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. (James 5:12)

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS of Jesus’ day encouraged the creation of loopholes. It was a commonly held belief in the Jewish community that as long as you didn’t swear by God, you could wriggle out of your commitment. So people tried to make their oath as close as they could get to swearing by God without actually using the word. They’d swear by heaven, the temple, or gifts offered on the altar. They wanted to make their promise sound binding so others would believe them. At the same time, they wanted to allow a way out of keeping their promise. After all, they didn’t say the word God.

James, ministering to the Jewish converts to Christianity shortly after the time of Jesus, found this cultural issue to be a matter of concern. There was nothing wrong with taking an oath in and of itself. But something intended for good had, over time, turned into something bad.

Margaret Thatcher quipped that being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. The words being powerful could easily be replaced with being truthful. People haven’t changed much in two thousand years. We still struggle to follow through on what we say. We must be careful not to rely our status as Christians while making promises, especially if we don’t have the resolve to keep them.

Evaluate how well you keep your promises and ask for God’s help.

Neal Eckert lives in Michigan with his loving wife and seven young children. He staff writes full-time for a hunting and fishing organization.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.