The Lost Commandment
We've all read it before. It's one of the 10 commandments. But it's often overlooked, maybe even ignored. I am speaking about the commandment to not bear false witness,
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16
When we hear this we typically think of a court setting or testifying before a grand jury regarding a crime. Of course we wouldn't lie under oath. That's easy to follow, knowing we most likely won't be called to the witness stand anytime soon. But hold on just a second.
False testimony isn't limited to a court setting. Sadly it happens everyday by well intentioned but uninformed professing Christians. Not at your church I am sure but for sure the one down the street. (If that makes you feel better).
Here is what Don Wilton said in Decision Magazine on this topic,
"The verb to bear implies the act of carrying or transmitting something, while the adjective false describes content that is untrue. The speaking of an untruth renders what is said as unreal, thereby rendering it artificial and invalid.
People can be greatly hurt by this malicious form of robbery. Bearing false witness robs the victim of the cloak of truth and is closely allied with God’s command not to steal."
The problem is many of our faith communities have become conduits to this type of behavior rather than resistors.
False testimony is taking gossip or hearsay, second, third, fourth, or fifth hand (yes that actually happens. I know from personal experience) information, treating it as fact and sharing it with others maligning someone's reputation, needlessly causing damage to the very body of our Lord.
The problem is we haven't called it for what it is. It's been covered up. Ignored. "People will be people," we say and accept it.
But that goes against the testimony of Scripture. It's actually described by God as something that he specifically hates in the book of Proverbs,
These six things the Lord hates, Yes seven are an abomination to him:
A proud look. A lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16 - 19
Wilton goes on to say, "There are several ways in which false witness can be borne. A person can help spread a rumor and thus join hands with a perpetrator. One can indulge false witness by turning a blind eye when truth is known. Someone can determine to bear false witness and therefore be guilty of premeditation. A person can simply fail to come forward with the truth or insinuate falsehood without actually saying it is so. And, perhaps worst of all, a person can spread gossip about another, thus engaging in some of the worst forms of character assassination."
Thankfully there is hope. If it's happened to you, be encouraged that it is something that God's servants have gone through throughout the ages. Joseph. David. Daniel. Trust that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn around for good.
Proverbs also says, "A false witness will not go unpunished. He who pours out lies will not escape."
The wheels of God's justice turn slow but grind fine. God will vindicate you and clear your name. Vindication is your inheritance and it's promised in the Scripture.
If you've done it to others you need to make it right. 180° turn, go make the situation right with the people whom you've done it to and repent to not only God but the person as well. Then purpose in your heart to take seriously the command of God to live and speak about others with humility and honesty and be free to live and love like Christ.