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Do not swear, either by heaven or by earth
James 5:12 Whether you’re swearing an oath, or just swearing, James reminds us to choose our words wisely.
“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 judgment.”
James 5:12 NASB1995
I love that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Barb and I were planning to go see “Oppenheimer” tonight, a movie that we had previously said was off-limits to us because of several scenes with nudity and sex. We have been working our way through the Christopher Nolan oeuvre; all of the excellent movies we’ve watched so far are free of nudity and sex, so we figured “what the heck” and bought tickets. We thought we’d just close our eyes when the scenes showed up on the movie screen…
Well, both of us started realizing that we were falling down on a promise to God, so we canceled the tickets and will wait for the VidAngel version to arrive, hopefully in a few weeks.
That wasn’t the only time I was convicted of sin today. I still have a tendency to use “colorful language” way too often; nowadays, I always ask myself immediately after blasting out some expletive “Why did you do that?” and then apologize to God. While I’m at least cognizant of my offense now, it doesn’t forgive the fact that I still tend to cuss.
If I wasn’t Christian and someone called me out on my tendency to swear, I would probably tell them that I can’t change — this is something ingrained in me by friends, co-workers, films, TV, social media and the like, and it’s just too hard to stop. But I am a Christian, and I need to clean up my act.
No sooner had I unleashed a torrent of choice words after a particularly annoying email arrived this afternoon, than I felt that conviction — why did you do that, Steve? Was that really necessary? Couldn’t you have taken out your frustration and anger another way?
Less than a minute later, I pulled up my Random Bible Verse picker to begin writing a new devotional and today’s verse was there… Yes, the Holy Spirit was pointing out another one of the shortcomings I need to work on.
Now, I’ve read this passage enough times to know that James is referring to swearing an oath, like “I swear to God that I am telling the truth!”, not cursing. James says that answering someone Yes or No is enough, and that invoking the name of the Lord in an oath can have dire consequences.
But the point is still well taken and applicable to swearing as well — say what we mean if we’re angry or upset, say it in a way that cannot be construed as blasphemy, and most of all, say it in a way that Jesus would approve of. Even better, keep that mouth closed and resolve the problem with love.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, my all-too-human self tends to become angry and frustrated with some people and situations. Please intercede in my heart to make me less angry and judgmental; in my mind to teach me how to better recognize situations that will cause me to become angry; and most of all, tame my tongue to keep me from using inappropriate language to respond to those situations. I ask this in the name of Your Son and my Savior, Jesus. AMEN.