“… a false witness who breathes out lies …” (v.19) RSV
The Book of Deuteronomy spells out many laws and also gives the consequences of breaking them. The law we consider today is against bearing false witness (Deutoronomy 19:15-20). It is a very painful thing when people speak against you, whether to your face or behind your back.
The disciples were warned that this would happen. Indeed they were warned, “Beware when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26). In other words, if they lived according to Christ’s commands (standing up for justice, being generous and speaking the truth in love), they would attract some opposition and criticism. If however they lived sheltered and flabby lives with no cutting edge, then they might be popular but their souls would be in peril.
Jesus was used to being criticised and slandered. He was accused of working “by the power of Beelzebub” (Matthew 12:27), and mocked for being “a glutton and a drunkard” (Matthew 11:19).
Since we know how painful it is to have people speak evil about us, let us resolve not to misrepresent others. St Paul gives good advice when he writes, “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Again, he writes to the Romans, “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19).
Once again this ‘deadly sin’ is recorded as the ninth commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai. One way to safeguard against a false witness is never to accept the word of one person. There should always be at least two witnesses. Of course even this won’t work if they collude together. This is what Jezebel did; she trumped up false witnesses to accuse Naboth so that he was executed and King Ahab (her husband) got his vineyard. Read the story in ‘Explore More’.
Help me, O Lord, only to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. If I have nothing good to say, then give me the grace to keep silent. Amen.
1 Read about the false witnesses who lied about Naboth.
“The Foodbank continues to grow and improve at the Warehouse and Distribution centre. We can now tell you that the good people of St. Mary’s have donated over 764 kilograms of food (just over three quarters of a ton). Thank you for your support to such a worthwhile cause.
We now have a weekly donation of a tray of eggs, so would appreciate your empty egg boxes please, as paper bags don’t do the job too well!”
An exciting opportunity to help fulfil Christian Aid’s vision of an end to poverty by inspiring our church, group and volunteer networks through working as part of our South West team, based in Taunton (35 hours): Legacy & Regional Coordinator, South West Salary: £29,942 – £32,887 per annum
“… feet that make haste to run to evil …” (v.18) RSV
Our ‘feet’ are a vivid picture used to express where we are going in life. You may know the verse that says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bring good tidings …” (Isaiah 52:7-10). He is not literally talking about the beauty of ‘feet’! He is referring to what the ‘feet’ symbolise: the message. All too often our ‘feet’ are taking us in the wrong direction. Instead of fleeing evil, or running to do good, or running into the arms of our Father, we are rushing headlong into sinful ways.
Do you remember how Jonah had been called by God to go to the wicked city of Ninevah to preach a message of forgiveness? Jonah instead ran off to catch a boat in the opposite direction. He sailed off to Tarshish (which we now know as the Costa del Sol!). In other words, he went on holiday instead of letting his feet take him to Ninevah.
St Paul picks up this idea of ‘feet’ recorded in Isaiah when he writes to the Ephesians. He describes the armour of God that we are to put on, and in particular he mentions that our ‘feet’ should be “shod … with the equipment of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
The life of the believer is to be dedicated to bringing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Our whole aim is to love God and to love our neighbour. Our intention is to do good and not evil. This should be the direction in which our ‘feet’ are pointing.
It is said of Jesus that “he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). In the end he resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem in order to suffer and to die. He set off from the north (Galilee) and walked southwards. His direction was set by his desire to do good to all peoples. In similar way, the father (in the story of the prodigal son) “ran and embraced him” (Luke 15:20). God has great enthusiasm to do us good. Let us follow him (1 John 2:6) and let us flee from doing evil.
Dear Lord, keep me from running into danger, and direct my footsteps in ways that please you. Amen.
1 Who likened the Christian life to running a race?
Over these last weeks our minds and hearts have been filled with images of flood-afflicted people and land. Although it seems that inadequate pre-emptive action has been taken over the preceding years, we want to bring alleviation where we can. How encouraging to see so many people showing solidarity and helping in practical ways.
We too may want to do our bit, and one way to do so is put an offering in the collection tub at the back of church. This money will be directed through the Somerset Community Foundation (a charity formed for this very purpose).