1. It had been a busy week. There were a few people who lived out of town that I wanted to visit on Friday. I was about to set up some visits, when my phone rang. It was Paul and he said that he just needed to talk with me. "Could we get together on Friday?" It sounded important, so we agreed to meet at 10:00 in the morning. The visits I had wanted to make would just have to wait till next week. Friday morning came and it was 10:00 o’clock. But Paul was not there. By quarter after ten he still had not shown up. I tried to call him but there was no answer. I waited a little longer. I started getting a liile upset. Why was Paul not there? I had re-arranged my schedule for him. Had he been in an accident? Had he just forgotten about our meeting? Maybe I was not just no that important to him? I tried to figure out why he had not come or at least called. I felt somewhat personally insulted. Like someone had stolen something from me. And not only me, but from the others I had hoped to visit.
2. Has anyone ever stood you up? They promised to me you but they never came? A friend tells you they will come over to play with you, so you look forward to Saturday morning? But they never come. Family friends say they are coming to visit on Sunday, so you even prepare some extra food? But they never show up. I believe we all have had this experience and been bothered by it. And the next time the person arranges something with us, we even have some doubt whether we can rely on them
3. James tells us: Read vs. 12. What James is talking about is that we are to keep our word. That when we say we will do something or meet someone, we actually do what we said.
1. James is summarizing something that he had heard Jesus teach.
Mat 5:33-37 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.1
Both Jesus and James are talking about taking oaths, about swearing an oath.
2. God, Jesus and Paul all made oaths. We are called to make oaths before the Lord at times. Promising to fulfil our vows, the Lord being our helper.
3. But what the people in James’ day were doing were making oaths on a daily basis. And there was a problem with this.
4. First, it meant that they were not taking their oaths very seriously.
5. An oath is a serious matter. In Deut. 6:13 we read "Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take oaths in His name." Taking an oath is a serious matter.
6. What Jesus says is that when we swear by heaven or earth, we include God in our oath since these both belong to God. An oath is raising the stakes of our promise. It is saying that we promise and include something precious in that promise to show we are sincere. People say - "on my life, on my mother’s grave, or in the name of God."
7. When we start making oaths for everything we say, we are taking something reserved for special occasions and making it the norm. Its like having a Christmas dinner every day. Then when Christmas comes the meal is not very special. In fact we might rather have a peanut butter sandwich for a change.
8. We trivialize that which is important. We desecrate that which is holy. When we invoke God’s name or other things he has given us, we are making God out to be unimportant.
9. And not only that but we make God a party to our promise. We involve Him in what we promise to do. And when we do that on a regular basis, sooner or later we will break our oath and God becomes part of a broken promise.
10. This is very serious. In fact, this is the third time that James talk about sins of our lips. He has talked about words spoken in anger.
James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,