I watched tears well up in the young woman’s eyes. She recounted the stares of other customers, the humiliation she felt, as two security guards escorted her to the store’s office. She had been falsely accused of shoplifting. Nothing derails justice more than a false witness. Liars rob the innocent of justice.
The ninth commandment does not condemn lying in general, though other commands in Scripture do. It condemns the character assignation of slander. Why does God value a truthful assessment of people?
9. 20 “‘And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Simple, He is Truth, and He is just. He speaks honestly and openly about who we are. He tells us we are made in His likeness, made for His glory. But He also reminds us we are hopelessly sinful, completely depraved. As the Judge of all the earth He determines the penalty justice requires. That penalty is death. He tells us the truth of who we are so we can ask His forgiveness.
Truth may offend, but slander is just plain offensive. The Bible calls Satan the Slander. He first slandered God, then God’s people. To slander people made in God’s image makes us, like Satan, a slanderer of God.
Satan takes pleasure in the truth offending. Being told we deserve death, that we sin, and offend a Holy God, stabs our egos. And the Devil likes twisting the knife. “How dare you call me a sinner, you don’t even know me!” I’ve heard this response to the Gospel before. Yet, failing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth concerning God’s good news would be bearing false witness against God and my neighbor.
Hearing His true account of my situation frees me to give an accurate account to others. It is not judging to point out another’s sin to them privately. It is not slander to show a person their own depravity so that they can be rescued.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life, No man comes to the Father but by me.” In this one statement Jesus bore a true witness of both Himself and the Father, but Jesus also told us the truth about our own condition. We needed a way back, a road to the Father, an escape route from death. We need to know the Truth, so we can know the way. We need to know the Way so we can have life, His life, eternal life.
We praise You for your honesty with us. We thank You that You see fit to bruise us with truth that we may be spared the death blow of lies. Please, teach our tongues to communicate truth in love. Convince us of the reality that the truth may hurt, but withholding truth, and twisting truth causes death. May we love our neighbors by speaking honestly with them and well of them.