Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ten Commandments: Truthfulness

Chuckle: Church bulletin blooper: "Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at our church. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa!"
Quote: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." --Mark Twain

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16 NIV).
The last five Commandments tell us that a stable society must be built upon respect for life, property, marital commitments, and trustworthiness. A personal love relationship with God is the basis for this kind of society. God loves us but knows our weaknesses -- He knows the potential danger and harm which result from an unruly tongue. Solomon noted, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). Lying is a big deal to God. "There are six things the Lord hates . . . a lying tongue . . a false witness who pours out lies" (Proverbs 6:16-17, 19 NLT). "The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful" (Proverbs 12:22 NIV).
In some ways, lying is more serious than stealing. The thief takes only material things, while the liar creates injustice and misery. One of the main characteristics of God is justice, and truth as a precondition of justice. No doubt God had in mind the giving of testimony in judicial proceedings, as a means of attaining justice, when He gave this command. "A false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape" (Proverbs 19:5 NLT). But, with other Scriptures, it's obvious that it includes much more than that. It includes the way we relate to one another in daily living.
Several years ago, a New York Times article said, "ninety-one percent admit they can't get through a single day without conscious, premeditated white lies." The same report said we, as a society, have moved far away from the age when a "man's word was his bond." We now accept exaggerations and falsifications as a normal part of life. We expect, and make jokes about, lawyers, lobbyists, journalists, and politicians who lie when it is convenient for their purposes.
Not only do our untruths about people do untold damage to them, but we also bring a pang to the heart of God by grieving the Holy Spirit. "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body . . . Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:25, 29-30 NIV).
Our words are also a witness to the world that is watching us. Jesus said, "By this all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35 NIV). Loving words and loving deeds can have great impact on our goal of reaching people for Christ. If you find yourself being less than truthful and prone to spread falsehoods and damaging gossip, what can you do to get your tongue back under control? First, recognize that only God can change you. You must cry out in repentance and ask for his forgiveness and cleansing. Listen to the cries of the psalmist: "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14 NIV).
A word spoken can never be called back, whether a word of truth and encouragement or a damaging falsehood. Dishonest reports, slander, and exaggerations of the truth all dishonor God, damage the character of the speaker, and pain to the victim. God knows that to establish justice, society must be able to believe the words of its members.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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