The Eighth Commandment

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I remember my older brother saying this little proverb to me after an afternoon of being teased at school. Unfortunately this little proverb does not always ring true. Everyone has been hurt by a thoughtless comment made by a friend or loved one. In fact, contrary to the proverb, wounds caused by slander can often hurt much more and last much longer than broken bones. I’m sure that most can think of a situation where a family was torn apart, sometimes irreparably, because of a thoughtless word said at the wrong time.

Words can hurt. Whether you are the 6th grade girl being picked on by your female classmates, the 16 year old boy teased by your peers or the 60 year old employee who never got promoted because that coworker trashed your reputation, you know how deep words can cut.

Here’s the really tragic part about the hurtful words condemned in this commandment: We know how terrible it can be to find ourselves on the receiving end of slander and gossip. Why then, is it so easy for us to slander and gossip about another person? We read Proverbs 22:1 and we couldn’t agree more but we fail to heed the guidance in Proverbs 11:9.

Isn’t it so easy to gossip around the proverbial water-cooler about the stupid thing Ryan did over the weekend? I mean he had it coming, didn’t he? He chose to act that way and his coworkers deserve to know what a horrible person he is so they don’t get hurt too right?

“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” –Proverbs 16:28

Is it your duty as his best friend to warn John that the girl he is thinking about dating cheated on someone you knew four years ago right? I mean, she is a sleazebag and you are only trying to protect your friend.

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9

Do you remember what Jesus instructed us to do when we see someone sinning? Read Matthew 18 again if you don’t. We don’t drag our neighbors name through the street so that everyone knows his sins, we approach him in private and rebuke and teach when needed. Above all we reflect the love that Jesus showed us.

Have you ever stopped and thought that perhaps that individual who messed up in the past learned something from it? I would hate to have every little sin I ever committed follow me around for the rest of my life, I imagine you would too. Should I be labeled a thief for the rest of my life because I stole a pack of gum when I was 5 years old? I hope not. God realizes this too, that is why he commanded what he did in Proverbs 17:9.

It really almost always comes down to love doesn’t it? Jesus loved you so much that he died to forgive you for all your sins of gossip and slander. Jesus loves you so much that he is preparing a place for you right now. Jesus loves you so much that he promises to come and bring to where he is someday soon.

Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus loves you even when you deserve the opposite. Jesus loves you even though you have done plenty in your life to warrant a bad name in his book. Jesus loves you…

In the joy and peace inspired by Jesus love I encourage you to daily strive to be the bigger man/woman/child. When someone’s name is being dragged through the mud reflect some of that love you have from Jesus and defend your friend. When you feel those gossipy words spilling from your lips remember the cross and kick those words to the curb.

Jesus never broke this commandment. Jesus paid the debt we owe for our miserable failure to follow in his footsteps. Live in Jesus’ love and you will find you cannot stop that love from being spread to those around you.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.


About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Church, Preschool and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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