"And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' Matthew 5:36-38 (NIV)
"As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise." James 5:11-13 (NIV)
Why must we always feel that we have to be so wordy?
These passages have sort of come to life for me these past couple of weeks as I've spoken to people about some things and listened to long, drawn out reasons why they can or can't do something - every time it concerned service to others.
I've had some trouble myself saying yes or no to people when they've wanted my help with something. Usually I have trouble answering because I want to say no but my conscience won't let me do so.
That's not exactly what the two passages address, though I think they do apply to the topic.
James and Matthew were really talking about a person's "word." How many times have you or I said, almost without thinking, "I'll do __________, I swear to God!"
"I didn't do it. I swear to God!"
Your word is to be good enough - no need to swear before God or other witnesses. People should be able to trust what you say as being right and true.
Getting back to my original thought of those who've hashed and rehashed some things, not being able to say no but really wanting to - Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
I'm speaking to the choir here - I'm guilty of this as is about every other Christian I know. People need to know that we mean what we say. They need to know that when we say we care - WE DO!
In the passage from Matthew it says that anything more than a yes or no is from the evil one - Satan. Ooh. I don't want to please Satan, do you?