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Simple Honesty

Daily Reading: James 5

Scripture Focus: But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5.12)

Devotional Thought: Recently, I visited the bank with two other members of our homeowners' association. We had been appointed by the association as signatories for our road maintenance account. What I thought should have been a two minute job, turned into two hours. And then, we had to go back for 30 more minutes on another day! I was more than a little dismayed over all the 'legalese' required for such a simple thing.

What has become of our society to cause us to feel the need to protect ourselves with all this legal jargon? Too many people have become experts at twisting words and making them say what was not intended. Attorneys have to be extremely careful and redundant because yes and no are no longer adequate! I guess it is nothing new, is it? James had to deal with it in his letter to the church. James was basically quoting Jesus who said, "Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil" (Matthew 5.37).

Does this mean that we shouldn't swear an oath in court or pledge our honesty? Quite the opposite. In Jesus' day, people circumvented their religious duties by adding elaborate oaths, obscuring the meaning of what was said. We need to remember that context. Then we will see that James and Jesus were advocating for honest, simple communication which assured everyone involved that they were being treated fairly and honestly.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that your words give life. Help me to speak plainly and honestly, so that I can bring the life of God into every conversation that I have, and so that others can have confidence in what I say. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 45.8-17

8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; 9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house, 11 and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. 12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people.

13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. 14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. 15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.

16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. 17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

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