This morning I have a challenge. Do I quote all of Malachi, when he said that no one could abide or withstand the day of God’s coming, for he will purify (and it will with some distress — the analogies used were acid and high heat). Or the gospel, where Jesus tells us to pray continually for justice?
James instead is quoted. He gives us the application. We are to be patient. The Lord will come, with fair judgement.
7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.
8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12Above 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.
What many people do not see is that justice is terrible. The court is not a house of joy but a place of pain. It is not justice we should be begging for, but mercy.
You see, the pretty lies that we tell each other to keep ourselves from considering our true state will be swept away. We will not be able to say that we did well because the one with the most toys wins” in front of a judge who made everything. God does not care about our careers.
And by his standards we have failed. This is the point of the sermon of the mount: when you include intent we have all stolen, been adulterous, and because we have hated or use other people and unjust laws to enforce our will, oppressed others, or murdered others.
We are all guilty. May the day of the LORD come with us covered by the mercy of God. For his justice will be true. And that will make it terrible.
The final application here is a simple one. Elaborate oaths imply a lack of trust and a need to bind people like fasces. This is to be shunned.