The Reading: Proverbs 6:16-19
“… 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.
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.
2 How did Stephen respond to his accusers?