When we bear false witness, lie or spread rumors, alter another person’s reputation with misinformation, bully, cut down or humiliate another human being, we are in fact disobeying the Eighth Commandment. It also goes against Jesus’ teaching to treat others as we want to be treated.
A young girl is accused of being sexually promiscuous. There is nothing to back it up, but word spreads like wildfire and soon she is known as the town slut. Because of careless words and thoughtlessness, she now carries an undeserved label, which will stick to her for years.
A man is about to be voted onto the largest court in the land is accused of sexual harassment. A Senate Judiciary Committee drags his name through the mud along with that of his accusers. We sat watching the drama unfold on our TV sets. These people’s reputation will be in question from now on.
A simple lie can mushroom into a giant explosion. One falsehood can start wars, destroy lives, cause depression, anger and shame. We see falsehoods spread at lightening speed with the tools of social media. Are we so bent on making ourselves look better by making others look bad? Do we accomplish that by creating untrue stories? What has happened to our core beliefs?
The Commandments from God have been corrupted over time and the simplicity of their meaning has been uprooted. The Eighth Commandment is expounded on in the book of James in the New Testament. A whole section is devoted to the evils of the human tongue.
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:6 ESV
We’re held accountable to God for the way we treat Him, ourselves and those we interact with. He’s the only One who can judge what’s in the heart. We are also to make a point of being of assistance to others and support their good name.
We won’t be completely free of our original sin until after our death. While we’re part of the world we’re not immune to temptation. Through the promise of God and the death of His beloved sin, the ransom has been paid, and because of that gift we can ask God to help us to live according to His law and His will.
Maybe it’s time to carve these laws in stone again and place them on display for all the world to see. They are designed to bring order to our lives.
The Eighth Commandment
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.