O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.
There is a form of lying we don’t often talk about but it is very important to understand. We engage in falsehood when we neglect the truth—that is, when we stay silent when we know what the truth is. When we allow falsehoods to go unchallenged, we are, in effect, accomplices in spreading lies. It’s not enough just to lay aside falsehood, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:25. We must also speak truth.
Did you know that if you had evidence of somebody’s innocence but withheld it, you were guilty under God’s law (Leviticus 5:1)? The same thing applies today. If you’re in a group and someone is being slandered and you happen to know what is being said is not the truth, for you to remain quiet is to be guilty of spreading falsehood. We have a responsibility to speak the truth. The easiest thing to do would be to let it go, but when somebody’s reputation is at stake, we have a responsibility to stand up for the truth.
Students, when you’re in a classroom and your teacher is sharing something that is unbiblical, you ought to always be respectful. You should never be disrespectful or argumentative, but you have a responsibility to stand up and to speak the truth. You may not be able to win that teacher over to a Christian point of view. But the reason you need to speak out is to let other students know there is another point of view. There is a truth besides what they’re hearing. Again, neglecting the truth, staying silent, is to be guilty of spreading falsehood.
Finally, another way we disobey the Ninth Commandment is by inflating the truth. By that, I’m referring to exaggerations. People exaggerate their experiences. They embellish stories when telling people about their vacations or other activities. They inflate relationships. They say, “So-and-so is a wonderful friend of mine” when, in fact, we barely even know that person. Sometimes we exaggerate to defend our position. A husband and wife who are engaged in argument say, “You always do this!” or “You never do that!” Well, rarely does somebody always or never do something.
Some of you are saying, “Pastor, wait a minute. Aren’t you being too picky here? What’s wrong with a little exaggeration?” The problem is that it hurts our credibility as people, and more importantly, it hurts our credibility as witnesses for Christ. Since we’re God’s spokesmen here on earth, if we’re exaggerating, distorting, or inflating the truth in one area, then how do people know, when we’re talking about something important, that we’re not doing the very same thing?
Be a person who doesn’t have to say, “I swear, what I’m telling you is true!” If you are known as a person who always tells the truth, you don’t have to say things like that. Be known as a person of truth.
The Ninth Commandment is an admonition to all of us to tell the truth. Don’t contradict it, don’t distort it, don’t neglect it, and don’t inflate it. Why? Because to do so ruins our relationship with other people and entangles us in webs of deceit. Most importantly, when we lie, we’re violating the very character of our heavenly Father.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “To Tell the Truth,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.