“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”
This commandment deals with being truthful. In our society being truthful is becoming a lost art. In our nation we expect our leaders to be liars, we expect sales people to lie to us and honesty is not something that comes easy for many people. Lying seems to be a way of life for many peo- ple, we lie at the drop of a hat.
How prone we are to lying! With a stroke of exaggeration here, an omitted detail there, or a misleading silence we distort the truth. Yet truth is the foundation and superstructure of all rela- tionships. Remove the girders of truth, and society crumbles in on itself. This moral absolute is so self-evident that even criminals punish their own who lie to them.
The ninth commandment forbids purposeful deceit against our neighbor and underscores the sacredness of truth in all our dealings. The two Hebrew words used for “false” in Exodus 20:16 and in Deuteronomy 5:20 mean “untrue” and “insincere.” Any expression of insincerity and un- truthfulness, therefore, is bearing false witness against our neighbor.
This commandment also exposes two underlying motives that God hates, ‘malice and pride.’ When we lie, it is usually to cast a person in a bad light or to place ourselves in a good light. The first springs from malice, the second from pride.
The world can be and is a cruel place. Let us not be a part of the problem. Do not be one who tears apart another person with your lies. It is the most cowardly form of destruction because the person who is being attacked has no means of defense. Let people know you as a person of integrity, a person who can be trusted. There was a time when a person’s word was their bond. You can still be one.
Our God is a God who can be trusted at His word, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The closer we are to Him, the more truthful we will become with ourselves and with others. The question is, “Are we followers of Him who is the truth?”
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
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