Exodus 20:16. You should not bear false witness against your neighbour.
I once read of a preacher who held a congregation spellbound by his fiery preaching on a cardinal sin. He ended his tirade by asking whether the congregation would like to see that part of the body that causes the most trouble. While young men got hot under the collar and the women reached for smelling salts he cried out: “Here it is” and stuck out his tongue.
Although a humorous anecdote it does underscore the trouble we can cause and the power we can wield by our words.
Turning to the Bible, we note that it is full of warnings and exhortations on the use and abuse of the tongue. No wonder Psalm 58:3 refers to the most primitive instinct of fallen human nature as that of ‘lying’. So why do people lie?
The first reason is that human nature is basically dishonest. Our great arch-enemy, the devil, was a liar and murderer from the beginning. Jesus says that when he tells lies, he is revealing his true nature. When he tempts us it is always into the realm of dishonesty and lies. When society departs from God’s law, and the standards of right and wrong no longer prevail, and when the Bible is pushed out of our life, the natural consequence is to drift away from the truth.
We live in an age when the Bible is no longer the standard by which we judge our laws. As a result, we have a tremendous web of lies, dishonesty and intrigue in our society.
In this commandment we are forbidden to tell lies against our neighbour i.e. all other people. We may not falsely accuse them, or speak of them in such a way that false impressions are created about them. We must also not be a party to anyone else who is doing it. Remember that our Lord and Saviour was condemned to the Cross partly because of false witnesses that were brought before the authorities. We must not be like that. In all our dealings with each other we must be truthful, transparent, honest and harmless. This is one way in which we love each other.
Have you said something recently about someone that has severed relationships with them? Are you a Christian? What will you do about it?