The taking of oaths and telling of the truth are very important in any culture. But if truth be told, we live in a world of broken oaths and lies. In years gone by, contracts were made with a handshake, which meant you were giving your word on a matter; today we rely on formal written contracts produced by lawyers, and yet, even so, they are broken as easily as the handshakes were made years ago.
We live in a world today filled with chronic liars. People lie to the government; and the government lies to the people; politicians lie with straight faces to voters; they lie to get into office and lie once elected; many break the very laws that they are sworn to uphold. People lie to their employers, and employers lie to their workers. Husband’s lie to their wives, and wives lie to their husbands. Children lie to their parents, and parents lie to their children. In our courts and governmental offices, oaths are regularly taken and broken as if they were never made. We see the most prevalent breaking of oaths in the marriage covenant via divorce. It’s a wonder how our society survives with so many broken oaths and lies as we see today.
But what about the Christian? Do those in Christ behave any differently? Expecially when there is a cost to keeping one’s oath, are Christians permitted to bail out, just like the world? What does the Bible have to say about oaths and lies? Our text in James 5:12 directly and aggressively addresses the topic of oaths, lies, and being truthful.