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James: Yes & No

James: From Skeptic To Servant  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Main Thing: Your word reflects your present intentions but your follow through reveals your character.

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Piggy bank incident.
Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to give our word and then break it. We do it all the time and yet somehow we let it go.
I’ll be praying for you.
Here’s a great example of how we do this in the church culture. Someone tells you of something hard going on in their life and our well meaning response at trying to comfort them is, ‘I’ll be praying for you’. Knowing full well that we probably won’t remember to do it.
In our passage today, James is going to teach us something profound about our word, our integrity and who we are.
In our passage today, James is going to teach us something profound about our word, our integrity and who we are.
If you’re new with us today we are coming close to the end of a series entitled “James: From Skeptic To Servant” where we’ve been going through the book of James.
If you’re new with us today we are coming close to the end of a series entitled “James: From Skeptic To Servant” where we’ve been going through the book of James.
Today finds us in
Today finds us in
'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. ‘
https://www.bible.com/bible/59/
If you’re taking notes write this down.
If you’re taking notes write this down.

Your word reflects your present intentions but your follow through reflects your character.

'But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath’ :12A
The Letters of James and Peter The Needlessness and the Folly of Oaths (James 5:12)

There was a distinction—especially in the Jewish world—between oaths which were binding and oaths which were not binding. Any oath in which the name of God was directly used was considered to be definitely binding, but any oath in which direct mention of the name of God was not made was held not to be binding. The idea was that, once God’s name was definitely used, he became an active partner in the transaction, but he did not become a partner unless his name was introduced in this way. The result of this was that it became a matter of skill and sharp practice to find an oath which was not binding. This made a mockery of the whole practice of confirming anything by an oath.

The Letters of James and Peter The Needlessness and the Folly of Oaths (James 5:12)

The result of this was that it became a matter of skill and sharp practice to find an oath which was not binding. This made a mockery of the whole practice of confirming anything by an oath.

Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters of James and Peter (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, p. 146). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.
We can see
Here James brings us to the problem of the two tiered way we give our word.
He says, don’t swear by the things of heaven or the things on earth that you value.
He says, don’t swear by the things of heaven or the things on earth that you value.
I swear on my life. I swear to God. I swear on my family. These all undermine a simple truth.
I swear on my life. I swear to God. I swear on my family. These all undermine a simple truth.
Either you mean it or you don’t. Here’s where the subtlety comes into play. It’s the two tiered system of giving our word.
Either you mean it or you don’t. Here’s where the subtlety comes into play. It’s the two tiered system of giving our word.
The more we use oaths to reinforce our intentions the less our word means something.
The more we use oaths to reinforce our intentions the less our word means something.
I swear on my family that this or that. Implies that when you simply give your word it’s just a strong maybe.
I swear on my family that this or that. Implies that when you simply give your word it’s just a strong maybe.
Or when we speak in our defence. I swear to God I didn’t do it, implies that on those occasions where you simply say you didn’t do it it’s a strong indicator that perhaps you did.
Or when we speak in our defence. I swear to God I didn’t do it, implies that on those occasions where you simply say you didn’t do it it’s a strong indicator that perhaps you did.
So why is this a big deal?
So why is this a big deal?
Because it’s an issue of integrity and character. Because words come easy to us in the moment but it’s the follow through that is hard.
Because it’s an issue of integrity and character. Because words come easy to us in the moment but it’s the follow through that is hard.
Remember,
Remember,

Your word reflects your present intentions but your follow through reflects your character.

When we use a two tiered way of giving our word it implies to others that we are not people of integrity and character.
But it’s more than that. We give priority to the things with which we swore with an oath over those times that we simply gave our word.
But it’s more than that. We give priority to the things with which we swore with an oath over those times that we simply gave our word.
What if you were known for your follow through, your character and integrity.
What if you were known for your follow through, your character and integrity.
This is profound. It’s profound in life, in relationships, in community, in business.
This is profound. It’s profound in life, in relationships, in community, in business.
And it will change the way you live your life.
And it will change the way you live your life.
Now you might say, Lucas. How is that going to change the way that I live. I will simply stop swearing by things and just give my word.
Now you might say, Lucas. How is that going to change the way that I live. I will simply stop swearing by things and just give my word.
Here’s how it changes the way we live. Remember....
Here’s how it changes the way we live. Remember....

Your word reflects your present intentions but your follow through reflects your character.

If we really dig into this principle we will stop giving our word out like candy.
If this becomes a filter for living our lives then we will focus on the follow through rather than the good intentions in the moment.
If this becomes a filter for living our lives then we will focus on the follow through rather than the good intentions in the moment.
When we count the cost of giving our word it begins to mean more to those that we give it to because we have thought through what the follow through looks like.
When we count the cost of giving our word it begins to mean more to those that we give it to because we have thought through what the follow through looks like.
Let’s return to the classic church culture moment. That moment when someone has shared their struggle with you and your habit is to say, I’ll be praying for you.
Let’s hit pause for a moment. I know it’s a very lovely thing to say, it’s a great intention in the moment. But I try not to say that to everyone that shares a struggle with me and here’s why.
Not all struggles are created equal and I only have so many hours in the day. Do I feel for someone who has lost a family pet? Absolutely… But it doesn’t take priority over someone who has lost a parent, grandparent, son or daughter.
Here’s a great alternative, ‘can I pray for you right now, here in this moment?’
James goes on.
James goes on.
‘but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no…’ :12B
James uses an interesting word here when he speaks to our yes and our no.
James uses an interesting word here when he speaks to our yes and our no.
The English language doesn’t do the intentions of this verse justice.
The English language doesn’t do the intentions of this verse justice.
We translate it, ‘Let your’ but the Greek takes it a step further.
We translate it, ‘Let your’ but the Greek takes it a step further.
Eimi - (i-mee’) - I am - Being or existence.
It speaks to that moment at the burning bush in the Old Testament when Moses asks God, who shall I say sent me and God replies, I Am That I Am.
In other words your yes and your no cannot be separated out from who you are.
In other words your yes and your no cannot be separated out from who you are.
Like it or not, your word and your follow through are who you are.
Like it or not, your word and your follow through are who you are.
Integrity and character are shaped by both word and deed.
Integrity and character are shaped by both word and deed.

Your word reflects your present intentions but your follow through reflects your character.

Finally James concludes,
‘so that you may not fall under condemnation.’ :12C
Other translations says, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Other translations says, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Now perhaps it’s implied here but there are two types of judgements that you fall under.
Now perhaps it’s implied here but there are two types of judgements that you fall under.
The judgment of God and the judgement of people.
The judgment of God and the judgement of people.
Because our word is who we are we are going to be held accountable by our Father for our words and our follow through but today I want to dig into the other judgement.
Because our word is who we are we are going to be held accountable by our Father for our words and our follow through but today I want to dig into the other judgement.
The judgment of people.
The judgment of people.
There is a great name that we uphold as a community of faith and as children of God. Unfortunately it’s this area of character and integrity that can often times bring reproach to our faith.
There is a great name that we uphold as a community of faith and as children of God. Unfortunately it’s this area of character and integrity that can often times bring reproach to our faith.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,

and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,

Whether it’s fair or unfair, Jesus is often judged not on his own merit but rather the merit of those who call themselves His followers.
I remember being in a church in a small town who had put together a directory of the Christian business owners and trades people. Seems like a nice thing until you started hearing about out in the community about the reputations of these followers of Jesus. It was easy to see why there was a mistrust in the church.
Did you know that you are an ambassador?
Whether it’s fair or unfair, Jesus is often judged not on his own merit but rather the merit of those who call themselves His followers.
Whether it’s fair or unfair, Jesus is often judged not on his own merit but rather the merit of those who call themselves His followers.
You represent God to the world in which you live and as a man or woman of integrity you have the awesome privilege of doing that well.
You represent God to the world in which you live and as a man or woman of integrity you have the awesome privilege of doing that well.
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