Summary: We should live such lives of integrity that we do not need to take oaths. Our speech should be real, true, and genuine.
1. In a Reader’s Digest survey of 2,624 readers in January 2004:
• Switched price tags to get a lower price: 12%
• Cheated on their tax return: 17%
• Misstated facts on a resume/job application: 18%
• Lied to their spouse about their relationship with another person: 28%
• Lied to their spouse about the cost of a recent purchase: 32%
• Downloaded music from the Internet without paying for it: 37%
• Been undercharged or received too much change from cashier and not told him or her: 50%
• Called in sick to work when not ill: 63%
• Taken office supplies from their office for personal use: 63%
• Lied to friends or family members about their appearance to avoid hurting their feelings: 71%
2. Lying is a chronic problem in our society. One of the results of lying is broken relationships. In our text for today James calls for truth-telling, which is absolutely necessary for healthy relationships. ***"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." (James 5:12)***
3. The Text goes beyond truth vs. lying and breaks the meaningless oaths
4. Close the loophole by remembering:
I. A Top Priority (Above all)
A. 7 Tests of Faith in James
• Bible Test
• Preference Test
• Works Test
• Tongue Test
• Wisdom Test
• Pride Test
• Patience Test
Integrity is the foundation for the others
B. Truth Originates in the Character of God – John 14.6; 17.17
C. God Desires Truth in Our Core – Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51.6
II. A Common People (Brethren)
A few years ago Isuzu ran a series of advertisements featuring “Joe Isuzu.” For the five years that Joe Isuzu was on the air he became the most famous liar in America.
Some of you may remember Joe Isuzu. He was the reptilian TV ad man who looked straight into the camera and said, “Isuzus only cost $9.00. They get 94 miles to the gallon, and if you buy one soon, you will get a free house.” And then superimposed on the screen came the white block letters saying, “He’s lying.”
Joe Isuzu continued, “Isuzus go 300 miles per hour. They seat the same number of people as the Astrodome, and they are roomy enough to carry the state of Texas.” Once again the words, “He’s lying,” appeared on the screen.
A. Actions (good or bad) Affect Our Community Achan; Ananias and Sapphira
B. “Common” Makes up “Community” – Things in Common
1. Common Faith
2. Common Values
III. An Integrity of Purpose (No Oath – Yes/No)
Several years ago, a man in Long Beach, California went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young cashier at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day-a whole bag of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. The store manager had placed the deposit inside a bag that was used for chicken orders.
After driving home, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken--over $800! The man was honest and quickly put the money back in the bag, got back into the car and drove back to the restaurant. He got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By then the manager was frantic. Losing that money meant his job along with the cashier.
The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, "I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here, take it back." Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, "Wow, let me call the newspaper. I’m going to have your picture put in the local newspaper. You’re the most honest man I’ve ever met." But the honest man quickly said, "Oh no, no, don’t do that!" Then he leaned closer and whispered to the manager, "The woman waiting for me in the car is not my wife and I don’t want my wife to know that I’m having an affair.”
Now there’s a man who has a real problem with integrity. He may be honest in some ways, but he’s a cheat and a liar in others. He has no integrity.
Integrity means that you are the same all the time. Honesty is a virtue but without loyalty and truthfulness, it really means nothing.
A. Oath – call on a superior to witness your promise and hold accountable