But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Here, it almost seems James has taken off in yet another direction. In this verse, James teaches a point on, basically, honesty in one’s words. There is some discussion among commentators about how exactly this verse fits with the previous discussion; not all even agree that it ties in with the previous discussion. It may stand alone as an instruction, but it also may be tied to earlier statements. It is very possible that James is instructing us to watch what we say during times of stress and conflict, In other words, do not let the stress of a moment cause us to make promises we have no plan to keep. Personally, I like that linkage. Either way, the point of the lesson does not change much.
Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; If you say yes mean yes; if you say no, mean no. It’s all about integrity. This is a critical point in our Christian walks and in our testimonies. Christians should be instantly known as people whose yes means yes and whose no means no. There should never be any doubt in the mind of the people we engage with that the words we speak are, to our knowledge, true.
This matters to God. Jesus said the following:
Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also had something to say about words of integrity.
Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
How do we know this matters to God? We are to deal honestly in our words lest ye fall into condemnation. Lying is a sin.
Let’s be honest, the world as a whole has many opportunities to find ways to present Christians as hypocrites; do we need to give it one more?