Be 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. You also must be patient. Strengthen your
hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one
another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!
As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in
the name of the Lord. Indeed 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. Above 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.
— James 5:7-12
I don’t have much to say about this passage but it was in the Episcopal lectionary for Advent 3 and was packaged with Matthew 11:1-15, the passage where John the Baptist sends messengers to inquire if Jesus is the one or if another is to come. John is in prison at this time and his death is impending (though I don’t know if he knew it at the time). John was unpopular with a lot of people for sharing his views about their sinfulness, so the tie-in is that, like John in prison, we must be patient. What is coming is not what we expect and our hearts must be open to read the signs and not be disappointed because they do not say what we wish they might.
As to judgment, I cannot pass on whether and how we will be judged by the Divine. However, its occurred to me recently that one aspect of ‘judge not yest ye be judged yourselves’ is that those who judge often feel the judgment of others upon them, whether or not others are judging them (how do we know what is in the hearts of others?). To me, the directive means if you don’t spend your time judging others, you are less likely to worry about them judging you.
Finally — let your yes be yes…I love that Quakers don’t swear oaths, there is purity and integrity in that practice. In law school, when they taught us about impeaching a witness, they directed us only to point out inconsistencies with prior statements but told us not to ask why the inconsistencies exist. Asking a witness why, now that they are on the stand, they are saying something different than they said is a prior statement allows the witness the opportunity to say, ‘well, I’m under oath now.’ Oh, so its okay to lie if you haven’t sworn an oath? Sick.