Did your mom say short repeatable statements that have stuck with you through the years? Maybe they were just silly little phrases like, “Someday your face will freeze like that,” or “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Growing up my mom quoted either the Bible or Benjamin Franklin. She would quote Franklin saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “A place for everything, everything in its place,” “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And she would quote the Bible saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” These were simple phrases, but over time they shaped my character.
James 5:12 says, “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.” This verse teaches the value of our words and from it, we can draw a few life-changing principles.
When you say you are going to do something, do it.
Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” If we want to resemble our Father, we must keep our word.
As a Christ follower, we are called to honor our commitments so never make a promise you can’t keep. If you forgot about an important meeting, don’t promise to remember in the future because your memory will let you down and mistakes will happen. Instead, repent and determine steps you can take and systems you can put in place to plan better for your next meeting.
When you give your word, keep it.
James 1:26, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” Keeping your word matters in both the big things as well as the small. If you commit to selling a phone online for one hundred dollars but then someone offers to pay more, do you fulfill your commitment to the first buyer or do you try to make a little extra cash? Your integrity and honesty matter more than any amount of money.
To be a high-level leader you must be trusted. And to be trusted, you must have integrity. When you say “yes” to something, this will most likely mean “no” to something else down the road. Be ready to keep your word even if it might cost you something later.
When you speak, speak truth.
Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.” When you are telling the truth or making a promise, avoid the extra jargon and simply let your words be true. When you are a person of integrity, you don’t need to swear by anything or make an oath, you just give a straightforward answer. James 5:12 says, “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.”
My mom was wise to teach me to “let my ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and my ‘No,’ ‘No’” because it set me on the path of integrity. Is there a verse you are repeating over and over to your kids to set them down the right path? If not, consider adding James 5:12 to challenge them in their honesty and integrity.