Apr 12 8:26 AM
Apr 12 8:26 AM
Apr 12 8:26 AM
Monday, April 12, 2021
As some of you know, I allude to it humorously in my messages if you attend our church, that I'm an Italian kid who grew up in Gates. Gates is a town that has a lot of Italian people. A lot of us have moved around to the city, Spencerport, Greece, etc., but a lot of Italians are still in Gates. Anyway, one of the things that I did a lot when I was a kid, was whenever somebody would hear me say something and they didn't believe me, I would say, "I swear to God." If someone would say to me "Come on, you didn't do that. That didn't happen. That's not really true," I would say, "I swear to God." Does God want us to say that? Here's the answer: No, he doesn't.
There are a couple problems with that phrase. Number one, it's taking God's name in vain. And number two, God wants our character to be so strong, to be so known, that when we say something, it's true, and never false. And when something's wrong, we call it wrong. When something's right, we call it right. Jesus said, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." In James 5:12 Jesus' half brother, James, says something very, very similar. Look what it says. James says, "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." Now, this has nothing to do with taking an oath in the court of law. That's is different. Even in Jewish law there were oaths and things you would take. So, it's not talking about the legal process, because that is a statement to validate in the legal process that your statements are true. This is not talking about that. So don't say, "I'm not going to take an oath because Vince said not to. " I didn't say that. What this is about is you as an individual making statements, and having to testify it to ramp up, as an Italian from Gates often did, and I wasn't the only one. So, he says this, "Do not swear - not by heaven, or by earth, or by anything else." So, don't say things like, "I swear to God, I swear by the temple," which often was something people did. Or, here's another classic one, "I swear by my mother's grave." Look, your mother has nothing to do with it, so leave her out of it. And look at the alternative. Just like Jesus said, James also says, "Let your yes be yes, and your no, no. Or you will be condemned."
God isn't a big fan of the phrases, "I swear to God, I swear by...., I swear on..., etc." Jesus said, don't be condemned. Don't look foolish. Let your yes be yes. Let your no be no. What's he saying? Be a person of character. If you're not sure, you say, "I have to think about it." Now, if you have children, I want to give you a little warning. Here's what I always say. If you have children, let your yes be yes. Let your no be no. And let your maybes never be found. Don't tell your kids maybe, as maybe is a statement that says, "If I work mom or dad over, they'll say yes." Don't say that. Instead, say, "I need to think about it." That's it. Can you let your yes be yes, and your no be no?" Here's what I found. When you're a person of character, and people know you, and when you say yes you'll always do yes, and when you say no and you always do no, nobody cares. Nobody wants you to swear by anything. Be a person of character. Yes is yes. No is no. If you make a mistake, say, "I know I said yes. I apologize," and get it over with. We're all imperfect. Don't try to cover it up. Don't put the canary under the carpet. It smells after a while.
So let's pray. Father, help us to be people of integrity. If we say we're gonna do something, we do it. If we say we're not going to do something, we don't. If we say one thing, but have to change our position, help us to be humble and apologetic and explain why. Maybe circumstances changed. All this, so that we are known as people of character. Help all of us do this in Jesus' name. Amen.