You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
It is all too easy to attempt to rank the Ten Commandments in some order of importance and particularly, perhaps in our current cultural climate, in the order in which we would think best deciding which ones we ought to obey fully and which ones we can modify! However as we dig into each one, and we have not been able to dig very deep in this series of devotionals, we cannot but be amazed as to how they fit together, work alongside each other and therefor can only be taken as a whole, a hole which makes demands on us that are easy to miss on a cursory reading.
Number nine which we come to today is no exception, not least because of the number of places in Scripture (four highlighted this morning, and there are many more) where this command is either re-emphasised, or set before us, to bring us up short.
It is a humbling thought that it is relatively easy to bear false witness against ones neighbour (interpreted in the widest sense) by the way we speak about them, by the way we behave towards them, by the way we believe what others say about them, and so we could go on.
Dare I say that we probably all have no little streak of hypocrisy in us as we speak of people out of their hearing one way, while in their hearing we may well speak very differently. This is no way for us to behave with our neighbours let alone within the family of God and is surely out of step with this command.
So once again the challenge is to holy living in every aspect of our brings. Our neighbour is a fellow human being, made in God’s image, and we are therefore called to love him or her as Christ would love them, and that requires that we must always ‘speak truth’ about them.
Through the second table of the commandments we are brought face to face with the right way to live with and minister to our fellow men, respecting relationships (honouring parents); respecting life (no killing); respecting the very inmost part of our beings (faithfulness in marriage and by implication purity in singleness); respecting property and the very essence of the person (no stealing) and today honesty in all our speech.
Why do we need to act thus? In order that we might glorify our God who is holy in everything and for that reason calls us to be holy too.