The Ninth Commandment - Weekly Devotional
This week's focus: Ten Commandments
(this is the ninth in our series on the 10 Commandments)
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The original Hebrew of the ninth commandment reflects a judicial setting. Specifically, this verse refers to lying in the context of a legal proceeding. But it suggests a broader application to lying in general. This is something God’s people, including us, should not do.
Often, when I have said that Christians should not lie, people rush to defend lying in some extreme situation, such as when Christians lied to the Nazis about hiding Jews. “Wasn’t lying right in this instance?” someone will ask. Certainly, it might be right to lie in order to preserve human life. But I am fascinated by the rush to find exceptions to the basic rule of speaking truthfully. My sense is that people look for extreme exceptions, not because they want to engage in ethical debate, but rather because they want to justify their own tendency to be much less than truthful in much less extreme contexts.
Several years ago, I preached a series on truthfulness at Irvine Presbyterian Church. I showed how the God of truth calls us to be people who speak and live truthfully. During the course of this sermon series, I was shocked by how often I “bent the truth” in ordinary speech. People in my congregation confessed to the same, using made-up excuses to when they were late, or offering compliments that weren’t honest, or exaggerating to impress their friends, etc., etc., etc. I don’t think my congregation and I were unusual. We are caught in a world of spin, and many of us play right along.
Behind the ninth commandment is an assumption that God’s people are to be truthful, literally, full of truth. When we speak and live honestly, we reflect the character of God, even as we set ourselves apart from the deceptive character of this world.
By Mark D. Roberts, © 2009 by The High Calling and the Theology of Work Project, Inc.
Exodus 20:16 (ESV)
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
- Lord, I can easily excuse myself from the impact of this commandment because I don’t tell big lies. But doing so misses the chance for your Word to convict me and challenge me. Sometimes I am less than truthful. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like relational disagreement. I want to be liked. And so, I stretch the truth beyond the breaking point. Forgive me, Lord, when I testify falsely in my life. Help me to be someone who speaks and lives truthfully. May I reflect your character in all that I do and speak.
We want to see God honored in America, and we pray for an unprecedented spiritual awakening.
This devotion was produced in partnership with Every Home for Christ.
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