Daily Office Readings for Friday of Proper 28: Year 2
“Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5: 12)
This advice sounds good but rarely do I see it practiced. This is especially true when I witness someone on television being asked a simple “yes or no” question. I find that after they are done responding I still can’t figure out whether their response was yes, or no.
James is repeating the same advice given in Matthew where Matthew says, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). I think the real challenge is deciding where we are inside ourselves. And we should remember that whether we are a “yes” or a “no,” we are only yes, or no, temporarily. We may change the next minute or the next year. And even this yes to no; or no to yes, shift, doesn’t mean that we are wishy-washy, but rather, as we are more informed, our perspective changes.
I have great admiration for people who can respond with a yes or a no and then explain the why’s. Sometimes they explain only when asked. Sometime they immediately fill in the why’s so as to explain their position. But at least they are clear about where they stand at the moment. I think we first have to deal with where we are about any subject deep within ourselves. And, it’s okay to be unsure. And it’s okay to say, I don’t know.
To practice the yes or no quick response we might want to start with ourselves. We can start out by simply asking ourselves easy questions like, “shall I get out of bed now? or, “do I want cereal for breakfast?” Then we can graduate to the more difficult questions like “do I support capital punishment or abortion?” We might change over time. And that’s alright. But let us take a stand about where we are right now as for as yes, or no, is concerned, and do it without fear of feeling weak.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John