Integrity of Relationships

MEMORY SELECTION: “Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” —James 5:12

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:11,12; James 3:6-14; Exodus 20:16

DURING our Lord’s earthly ministry, as well as during the period of the Early Church, the religious leaders of Israel were most particular respecting the minute requirements of the Law Covenant. They were careless, however, respecting the spirit of the Law—which is governed by love. Jesus and his apostles received much in the way of persecution and misunderstanding as a result of this lack of discernment.

The Master’s message to his followers is centered around the spirit and heart condition of the consecrated. This is important, because Jesus taught us that if the heart is not right and if we are not completely dedicated to the principles of truth and righteousness, then our hopes and endeavors are in vain. None except those who continue to keep the perfect standard before their mental vision will be prepared to enter the kingdom as faithful members of the body of Christ. Our Lord established that perfect standard.

Those who held only to the letter of the Law—for example, the Pharisees—recognized, and rightly so, that it was an extreme violation of the Law to take a human life. What they failed to see, however, was that hatred, slander, and evil-speaking were also violations of the same law. They did not recognize that those evils represent the assassination of another person’s character.

As followers of the Master during the present age of sacrifice, the consecrated must recognize the very high standard of righteousness that is necessary. It is a serious matter and one which should be the controlling factor in all our thoughts and actions, as well as in the words which may be uttered from our lips.

The memory selection for this week’s lesson draws attention to the admonition to watch our words—let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay. We should always tell the truth. When we say “yes” it should mean “yes,” and when we say “no” it should mean “no.” If we are truthful in all that we say and do, then others will learn to trust us by the words of our mouths. It will, therefore, be unnecessary for us to swear by an oath as to the authenticity of our words. They will speak for themselves.

The Apostle James also draws our attention to the powerful influence that our words have on others. He says (James 3:6), “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell [gehenna, Emphatic Diaglott].” Indeed, although the tongue is one of the least members of our human bodies, it is perhaps the most influential one of all. Our words can penetrate the very heart of the listener and strike a blow that can never be recovered. And yet James says (3:8), “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” From this statement we are reminded of the fact that not one of the fallen human race is capable of taming his own tongue because it is such an unruly member. However, as the tongue is an index of our hearts, the only safe and scriptural way the consecrated Christian may attempt to come up to the perfect standard is to sweeten the heart, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”—Matt. 12:34

Out of the heart are the issues of life, and from the abundance of the heart the tongue will confess those thoughts and meditations. As a new creature in Christ Jesus, the child of God may use the tongue to bring praise and honor to his Creator, as well as to bring blessings to his fellow man.

During Jesus’ day there were those who professed to be religious but who did not have the proper heart condition, nor the humility to recognize their own weaknesses. Likewise those who, during the present Gospel Age, have given their lives to the Lord should be careful to note in what way they may cleanse their hearts from all evil and filthiness of the fallen flesh. A thorough examination of the heart is necessary, also a desire to approach the throne of heavenly grace for forgiveness and for divine instruction.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |