Yes & No

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No” be “No,” lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12)

Recently, William asked if I would be willing to play a board game with him but I was busy at the time so I gave him the canned “Dad” response—“We’ll see.”  This satisfied him for the moment and off he ran to find something else to do.  Then, I overheard him talking with Ben, telling him that I would be playing a game with him later and would he like to play as well.

“What did he actually say?”

“We’ll see.”

“That’s ‘Dad’ for no.”

Ultimately, we DID play the board game, but it appears that whether I intended it to be that way or not, the boys had learned to interpret my words in different ways.

The people we interact with learn our patterns of speech and behavior, and whether the two line up. It’s a natural part of human psychology, to find patterns in our environment and use them to predict future interactions. This means that if we desire to be known as a person that can be counted on, as a person of integrity, we must carefully choose our words and then follow through with our commitments. 

It is very easy to over-promise and under-perform, especially when we are feeling pressure to commit to something that we don’t really want to do in the first place. You feel guilty so you agree to something, and then procrastinate because you don’t want to do it.  Then you feel guilty for procrastinating, and you rush to get it done at the last minute.  That’s not how I want to live my life, but I’ve found myself in that situation so many times!

It would be much better if I just did as James instructed…Let my “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.”  What might that look like?

  • No — Sometimes we just need to say “No” and that can be very hard to do if we don’t want to upset someone.  In some cases, we must say “No” to something that is good and worthwhile so we can say “Yes” to something that is more important. To accomplish this, though, you must have a very clear understanding of your priorities, so you can evaluate between things.
  • Yes — If you do commit to something, follow through!  It doesn’t help if you say you will do something but then flake out on the person asking for your assistance, and it just makes you look bad. 
  • Maybe — There is nothing wrong with saying, “Let me get back to you later.”  This prevents you from making a commitment before you’ve had a chance to consider it.  But if you do this, make sure to follow up with the person and let them know your decision.

It is important that people be able to trust you and your word. It goes beyond social standing and responsibility. As a believer, each of us is a witness to Jesus Christ. Everything we do should point people to him.  If you have gained a reputation as someone who cannot be counted on with small things, how will they ever trust you with subjects of eternal consequence?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being a God that can always be counted on.  Your word is faithful and your promises sure.  Help us to follow your example…to be trustworthy people of integrity.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

What They Don’t Know, Will Still Hurt You!

Psalm 101:1-4- I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

 

So, just the other day I found myself really aggravated. Life had been throwing curveballs at us for a while, so I was already a little irritable. Then a certain scenario just came along and was that little gust of wind that pushed me over the edge. I was tired from a long week of work, sore from remodeling my house, and in a hurry to make an appointment. I had this plan all lined up and… boom. Nothing went according to that plan. Letting my flesh take over I said, “I’m so frustrated! (and I may have even growled just a little…) But I’ll walk right out of here and no one will ever know. I’ll smile really big and go about my day… all the while keeping this buried.”

For a moment, I felt good about myself for that.

But the longer I thought about it, I felt convicted… challenged. There was a pressing discomfort that wouldn’t let me feel settled and okay with how I let myself think and feel. And, then I read this Scripture: “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house…”

While it is extremely important and expected of us to act and speak in an honorable way, Christ wants us to go a little further than that.  Integrity means internal consistency or lack of corruption… We have to get our heart and mind in line with what He would want for us. That saying that all of us have heard at some point, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them…” is deceptive and misleading, to say the least. Keeping our actions in check while around others is necessary, but if we allow ourselves to build on a foundation of frustration, we will be the ones hurting; suffering from our own self-destruction.

Whenever I feel myself taking on an attitude or feelings of frustration that shouldn’t be lingering there, I remind myself to pray this little phrase found in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” And the more I fix my mind on God and His goodness, the easier it is for me to dwell in peace. (Isaiah 26:3- You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.)

This world keeps us busy every day we wake up. We have work, family, home responsibilities, friends, school activities, church functions, stalling cars, doctor appointments, bills that are due… etc, etc, etc. While none of those things are unworthy of our time and attention, when we focus on them too much, it doesn’t take long at all to feel picked and pulled apart and weighed down. It’s only natural for our flesh to speak up and say “Hey now! That’s enough. This is too much. It’s not fair. I’m too tired…”

We have to spend time with Him, delve into His word. We have to “ponder the way that is blameless…” There’s no other way for us to walk with integrity of heart…

I am fully aware that there will be days “life” just becomes too much. We will feel stressed. We’ll deal with frustration, sure. Still, we should let our prayers everyday reflect the desire to walk with integrity of heart. Direct our thoughts to Him and His way. Avoid anything that would be displeasing in His sight, or cause conflict in our life. It can be done, through Him. He gives us strength and power to live above the “norm” every day. We just have to grasp that truth and cling tightly to it.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me keep my heart and spirit in check with You. Align my attitude to reflect Your gentleness and selflessness. When my flesh rises up within me, remind me that I have the authority, through Your name, to put it back in its place. I can walk in the Spirit each day when I keep my mind on Your will. I love You, Lord. Walk closely to me today. In Your name, amen.

 

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