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Yes and No

 We’ve all been lied to at some point in our lives. We’ve all been betrayed, used, exploited, and taken advantage of, but it stings differently when a supposed brother or sister does it. Perhaps it’s because you didn’t expect the attack to come from within the camp, or you’d put your trust in the individual because they presented themselves as being of the household of faith, but it seems as though it takes longer to heal from a knife to the back than one you see coming. Maybe the one in the back just goes deeper. The one in the front you have a split second to flinch away from, if anything.

Getting blindsided is no fun. It’s happened a couple of times throughout my life, and I’ve learned enough from those experiences to know that trust should be hard-earned and not readily handed out. We are more prone to trust people who say they are of the same tribe, whether that tribe is ethnicity, nationality, denomination, or local church. It’s why most predators prey on their kind, and it’s across the board, no exceptions.

When we first arrived in America, my dad worked for a Romanian for six months without seeing a red cent for his sweat and labor. It was a construction job, and the guy kept putting off paying him until my dad demanded his back pay, and then he summarily fired him. He spoke no English and didn’t know the law or any means of redress, so he just walked away, found another job, and went to it. He’d learned his lesson, though, and never worked for another Romanian again. Is it that Romanians are disproportionately dishonest? No, but they prey on their kind, just like the Jamaicans, Chinese, Hungarians, Poles, and Germans.

We’ve all heard the stories of churches getting taken by Christian companies who took a down payment on a project only to abscond with the money or people who the pastor vouched for getting parishioners involved in some sort of pyramid scheme because the pastor was getting a cut on the back end. Countless such stories are just a Google search away, and the innocent are constantly victimized. Whether the little old lady who trusted her bishop and got bamboozled or an entire body of believers to find the building fund raided while the church secretary and the pastor are posting pictures from Fiji with the hashtag ‘Your Best Life Now!’ online, it’s always sad to witness. That it adds a new bruise to the already black-and-blue reputation and testimony of the general church goes without saying.  

I find it troubling that someone would destroy their reputation and obliterate their testimony over a payday, but these are the things we have to navigate in this life. When it comes to church folk, it’s because some have not taken James’s admonishment to heart.

James 5:12, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.”

This is one of the reasons Christians make bad politicians, or at least they should. A politician will say one thing today, say the opposite tomorrow, and do so with a straight enough face, wherein those listening have to go back and make sure they heard the first thing right just to conclude that they’re speaking out both sides of their mouth.

When you say yes, mean it. When you say no, mean that too. Don’t be wishy-washy in word or deed, allowing your convictions to be situational rather than firm and absolute, no matter the situation or circumstance.

If you say yes to something, and the individual you say yes to requires reassurances, if they demand that you put it in writing or that you repeat your statement, then you’re likely one of those people who garnered a reputation for saying yes, then backing out, or changing your mind at a later date.

The worst words a salesman can hear are “I’m going to have to sleep on it,” followed closely by “I have to ask my wife or husband,” or “Let me think about it for a few days.” They know that the chances of follow-through plummet once those words spill out of someone’s mouth, so they’re angling for a “yes,” then once they get it as if out of thin air, they pull out the paperwork and insist that you sign on the dotted line before you leave their presence. If you’ve ever sat through a timeshare pitch, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That portable black and white rabbit ear television doesn’t seem like such a bargain now that you, your children, and your children’s children are saddled with paying the maintenance fees for the rest of your bloodline.

Never be hasty in saying yes because you’ll have to commit to the thing you said you would do, even if it becomes an inconvenience for you down the road. It used to be that a man’s word was his bond. All it took was a handshake, and you could rest assured that whatever you agreed upon would run its rightful course. The times are changing, and they already have, until finding an honest man is harder to pull off than a fat man doing cartwheels. Sadly, it’s hard to find honest people nowadays, but that shouldn’t be the case within the church. It is, I know, but it shouldn’t be, especially if we realize that there is a penalty for not being so. Lest you fall under judgment is no idle threat. It’s not something James came up with just to drive home the point of the need to be consistent, but a true and undeniable reality.

There is no place for duplicity among God’s people. It is something God will judge, for to be duplicitous is to be double-minded, and to be double-minded is to have a divided heart.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 17 March 2024 | 11:42 am

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