To Tell the Truth

The television show, To Tell The Truth, began airing in the mid 1950s and has experienced several reinventions through the years. It features three people who each claim to be a specific person with a talent, career or unusual identity. Celebrity panelists take turns asking questions before deciding which is the real person. Those claiming to be the true person are usually able to answer every question that comes their way. Some might think it’s amazing how well they are able to lie, but for many of us it’s something we see all too frequently in real life. It’s hard to know who to believe.
The people that James wrote to lived in a similar world. In James 5:12 we have one of the most direct parallels between James and the Sermon on the Mount: “But above all, my brothers, 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.” Although some will focus on the part about oaths, at its core it is a command about being truthful. For Christians, truth should permeate our words.
In their book, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Glen Stassen and David Gushee look at ethics through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. They believe that two important themes are introduced in the section that James references from Matthew 5. First, “the truth is not simply something that is believed or spoken, but instead a way of being.” This is why an oath is not necessary. If it was, we would need one each time we begin to speak. Second, “one’s commitment to the truth is verified by deeds.” That sounds like what James wrote in chapter 2 or what Jesus taught about our fruit. Our thoughts, words and actions are connected.
We should always seek to live truthful and trustworthy lives in our words and actions as we follow the one who is Truth incarnate. It will help our world see Him more clearly.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

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