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Treasuring Truth in Every Relationship and Every Circumstance
In a time when we often hear about white lies, half-truths, mild exaggerations, and stretching of the truth, the ninth commandment provides God’s word of correction and counsel.
Under Mosaic Law, in most cases in which witnesses were called to testify, the death penalty was given to those found guilty—so the testimony of the false witness (someone who lied) could mean the death of an innocent person. A false witness in a trial could, in fact, be committing murder by his or her testimony.
There are many reasons why people give false testimony and tell lies, including:
- To benefit themselves, perhaps for material or monetary gain or for an intangible benefit, such as the attention, good-will, or acceptance of others;
- To get off the hook by shifting the blame to someone else; or
- To intentionally harm others.
The heart of the ninth commandment prohibits any kind of lying or deception, which is the starting point for any false testimony.
God commands us to be truthful in every situation, being especially careful in circumstances such as the heat of a trial, where tempers or prejudices can overrule clear thinking and twist the truth. From Deuteronomy 19:18-21, a witness found to be lying would receive the same penalty that would have been the punishment of the accused person had that person been found guilty (e.g., “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”).
Scriptures place a high premium on truth. Truth between two people builds trust, bringing great freedom and little fear between them, sustaining the relationship through stormy times and periods of calm. Lies and slander destroy trust, because they lead to damaged relationships, even destroyed relationships.
Living honestly and truthfully means freedom—freedom with the Lord, freedom of conscience, and freedom in relationships. Such a life is a treasure of immense value which any person can receive.
It’s an Everyday Decision—Truth or Deceit
Every person since Adam and Eve has faced the choice to lie or tell the truth, to be deceitful and dishonest or to walk in honesty and integrity.
From Proverbs 6:16-19, of the seven things “the Lord hates” and considers “an abomination,” second on the list is “a lying tongue” and sixth is “a false witness who utters lies”—both violations of the ninth commandment.
It is better to tell the truth even when it hurts in order for healing to come, rather than cover over a problem with deceitful words of flattery. This is not a call to blunt or harsh words that may be true, but a call to building relationships.
God calls us to words of help and healing, not lying and deceit. God called His people then, as He does now, to a lifestyle of truth: “Speak the truth to one another” (Zechariah 8:16).
Proverbs 20:23 says, “The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.” This same thing goes on today…people subtly cut corners and charge too much or do not give what has been promised.
We face daily choices in whether to be honest and truthful or not…
God wants his children to declare war on lying. Consider these four steps:
- Be ruthless with ourselves about our propensity to lie.
- Commit to be truth-tellers. Integrity should mark our lives and guide our words.
- Invite consistent accountability.
- When we do lie and speak with deception, confess it to God and to the person we lied to. We can clean up the mess by being a truth-teller.
Jesus stated, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Every word He spoke was true; He never lied.
By following the simple guideline that our “yes” means yes and “no” means no, we can avoid any types of lies, including exaggeration and slander.
The New Testament Call to Living and Speaking the Truth
The apostles understood the importance of living and telling the truth—telling the truth about who Jesus is and why He came, speaking the truth in every relationship, and living with honesty and integrity in every area of life. God wants each of His children living an honest, truthful life and speaking the truth in all situations.
“Truth” in the New Testament is a translation of aletheia, a Greek word made up of two words, “a” and “letho” meaning “not” and “hidden” or “concealed.” Being truthful means to reveal what is real, genuine, or authentic. It means leaving nothing covered or hidden—being open, honest, and forthright. God is truth, and His Word is truth, never deceptive or misleading in any way.
In word and deed, we are called to reflect the life of the Lord Jesus. The one who walks in God’s way will continually seek to refrain from any evil or deceitful speaking and seek to speak the truth in order to bless and build up others.
Ephesians 6:14 says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” The belt allowed Roman soldiers to walk, work, and wage war more effectively.
The belt of truth refers to a personal trust in what God has said and to one’s personal commitment to truth, to a life of openness, honesty, and a walk of integrity. Just as the belt made all the rest of the armor fit and be accessible, so our commitment to live honestly with integrity allows us to speak the truth more clearly, to better fulfill responsibilities in daily life, at work or home, and to win in the spiritual battles and temptations we face.
We all like to think of ourselves as honest. Ask God to shine a searchlight into your heart and expose any areas of dishonesty, whether with yourself, with him or with others.
- At Home: Do you speak the truth with your family?
- At Work: Do you speak truth with your employer, fellow employees, and supervisors? Are you honest in your words?
- At Church: Are you dealing honestly with church leaders or with fellow believers? Are you speaking words of truth to encourage and build up?
- In Business or Financial Dealings: Are you speaking truthfully in business and financial matters, including selling, trading, or buying? Are you honest on your income tax return?
God loves truth. The ninth commandment is a call to treasure truth in every relationship, in each encounter and every interaction with others.
Strive to be truthful, honest, and trustworthy as you shoot for the stars—those are qualities of Out of This World Leaders!