To Tell The Truth By George Stroh September 27, 2010
"But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgement." (James 5:12)
Even though most of us were taught from a very young age the importance of telling the truth, for most people, always telling the truth is at a best a relative concept and not always prudent. Pilate asked Jesus, What is truth?" An Ironic question since he was asking the One who personified truth; "Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6a).
The "whole truth and nothing but the truth " may be an oath required in court, but telling the whole truth is the exception in many business and personal transactions, and probably in many court proceedings. Marriage vows in American are honored less than 50% of the time and the statistics sadly aren't that much better for so called Christian marriages. And not many advertisements for products and services really tell the "whole truth and nothing but the truth." For many, lying is easy and habitual. And why not? Satan, the ruler of this world is the father of lies.
James writes to exhort believers to put their faith in action by always telling the truth. These Jewish converts were comfortable swearing by heaven or by earth or other things which may not be considered binding on the one making the oath. Only when a Jew swore by God, would he or she feel totally obligated. James reminds these brethren that we are always to tell the truth; "...your yes is to be yes, and your no, no."
There may be nothing more damaging to a Christian's testimony than having a reputation of not telling the truth. Why should someone believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ from someone who consistently lies about other things. One important way that we put our faith into action is when we tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth "so that you may not fall under judgement."
Christians are sinners saved by grace. Because we are sinners, we may still lie. Sometimes our lies are so subtle, that we don't even realize what we have said. "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well." (James 3:2). We are perfect in our righteous position as believers, yet we are not always perfect in our righteous practice. But this is not an excuse for us, that have the Holy Spirit that guides us, encourages and strengthens us in our righteousness, including living, believing and always telling the truth. Maranatha!