That Is Good News: Living in the truth is liberating
Published 11:08 am Monday, December 16, 2019
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 NIV
For most of our time the past few weeks looking at the Ten Commandments, I have looked forward to writing the column for each commandment.
Honestly, there has been a struggle within me leading up to writing about the ninth commandment.
I have not been able to pinpoint why I have struggled with this command, but I am very aware of the impact false testimony has on relationships, politics and civility in general. One clear truth in God’s commands for living is the effect our personal actions has on others and society.
In the American justice system, testimony is a key form of both the prosecution and defense. When a person is called to testify, they are asked to swear an oath to tell the truth.
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
This is still usually done with a person placing their hand on a Bible. The truthfulness of a testimony is often not as important as whether the jury believes what has been stated and put into the court record.
There is however still the necessity for a person on the stand to give truthful, completely truthful, answers to questions and accounts of events. This here is one of the most challenging realities of the courtroom of justice and the courtroom of life.
I once heard someone say, “There is her side and there is his side and there is the truth.”
This simple statement seems to be true and if it is true, speaks to the problem often associated with conflict, “he said, she said” and living in an honesty purposed by God to keep stories straight.
The importance of not giving false testimony against another has a radical impact on the reputation and perception of a person.
I do not personally know anyone who would condone any form of sexual misconduct, specifically that which a man could do to a woman, but in this culture, accusations of sexual misconduct that have no truth to them can ruin a person’s life.
Deception, half-truths, and consent by staying silent and not correcting false information have no place in human relationships, especially the church and in communities like Orange and Orange County.
The commandment here is calling each of us to intentionally avoid bearing false witness about another person either by what we say or what we neglect to say.
Any form of dishonesty that leads to false witness about another, even false witness about bad people or even one’s own self, has no place in God’s ethics and cannot be present in the atmosphere of His Holy Love!
In the ultimate act of Holy Love portrayed in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord of Hosts proclaimed the truth of humanity’s sin, but then proclaimed victory over the truth of sin through the truth of His love and grace.
Ever since the day of Christ’s victory, in the act of God raising Him from the dead, the devil, our enemy, has been attempting to bring false witness against Christ telling us that salvation is fake and living for self-gratification is the only way.
That is a lie, for God loves us and there is nothing we can do about that.
I encourage you to talk to the Lord about this command. Ask Him to search your heart and mind and reveal any way in you that might lead to false witness.
If there are people you need to reconcile with, then do it. If there are things you say and ways you tell stories that are not always the “whole truth,” then stop.
The benefit to you and those in your life will be greater than you could ever imagine.
Intentionally living truthfully in our testimony about others liberates us to live truthfully in our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord! That is Good News!
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in Orange.