James 5:12 "Above all, my brothers, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No,' no, or you will be condemned."
Remember when you were a kid and you tried to tell your parents something they didn't believe? You'd say, "I swear, Mom!" That's supposed to mean, "This time I'm not lying!"
God tells us that we don't need swear by anything. We don't need to try to convince people of the truth. When we have something to prove, we tend to embellish what we say. If we are honest and say exactly what we mean, we'll never have to prove anything.
There's a type of counseling called Reality Therapy, where the person being counseled learns that they don't have clarify their responses. If they are asked a question, they can simply answer the truth without explaining why. It can help set them free from the burden of trying to please everyone all the time. James 5:12 is a type of reality therapy. God is telling us to just "say it like it is" without clarifying, justifying, rationalizing, embellishing or lying.
1. Why do we feel like we have to explain ourselves to those around us? Is it because we worry about what they will think of some of our decisions? Or are we trying to hide something we don't want them to know? Do we want them to think we are better than we are?
2. Sometimes God asks us questions of truth, such as 'Are you spending any time with me?' Or 'How have you treated my children?' When God asks us these questions, how do we answer Him? Are we honest or do we try to justify our answers? What has God asked you this week that you haven't answered truthfully?
3. We have to be honest not only with God and others but with ourselves. We tend to lie to ourselves by saying, 'I can quit anytime.' Or 'Those friends might be trouble, but I can be a good influence on them.' Or 'It's casual flirting - it's not a big deal.' Or 'I deserve that ice cream because I walked the dog' (my personal favorite). In what areas do you justify your actions or responses?
4. James 5:12 says that if we don't follow this command, we will be condemned. The original Greek words meant, "a separation, a trial, judgment." Let us examine our motives so that we will not be separated frmo or judged by God. When you start to see areas that need to be addressed, take it to God immediately. Ask for forgiveness and direction.
The next book we will study is....up to you. Vote!