James 5:12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

Swearing is a way that we try to add authority to our decisions. It may even put some of the praise or, more likely, blame upon the thing or person by whom we swear if something goes right or wrong. It removes the responsibility from us to something else. The assumption is that our words cannot be trusted so we need the pressure of some other entity to make sure we carry through with what we say we will do. James says that this should not be the case with believers. One reason is that swearing is a form of lying that calls our integrity into question because we are not confident enough that our words are true. People do not trust us because of something we have done in the past. James says that this is so serious, it will condemn us. This verse is calling for personal integrity. When we say “yes” or “no,” we mean it. What causes us to compromise? Fear that something may go wrong. A lack of trust that God is not in control. Shame because we are afraid of the truth. Guilt because we do not want the truth to be revealed. These are not qualities that a believer should have. Being confident in our speech shows that we are not afraid of the truth and have nothing to hide.

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