Part 9:  The Ten Commandments

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Today’s text is found in: Exodus 20:3-19

This is part 9, with the emphasis on verse 16

I am so glad you came back for today’s devotion. Hey, listen, I have to tell you something. You won’t believe what I have to say, well, maybe you will. But maybe you heard about what that guy did on the news the other day. Oh, man, isn’t that disgusting! I don’t know him very well at all, but that guy is my neighbor! Oh yeah. I heard he did that AND you know what else he did? And oh, yeah, I thought he acted strange every time I saw him. When we would walk by his house he would throw open the blinds and would . . .

Now that’s just a fictional story for illustrational purposes only. But me telling you about it would seem to be justified, if it were true. Even if it had been a true story and I had made those comments, I would have been breaking this Ninth Commandment, which is; “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

You see, this commandment not only covers our false testimony in court, but also deals with speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and in any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor. Speaking unjustly against our neighbor to hurt his reputation, slandering, backbiting, tale bearing, and even aggravating what is done amiss and making it worse than it is, are also included in this commandment. Perhaps our court systems have recognized this principle and that’s the reason they have instructed all witnesses to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God”.

Hmmm . . . doesn’t that make you wonder a little bit? I mean, just about every television show, including the news, is all about “ratings”. How interesting can they make the latest gossip? Sadly, if a journalist, or a reporter, cannot take a sour lemon and make it into sweet lemonade, or take a rotten apple and make it the best apple pie you’ve ever had, they stand to lose their job! And if the TV station cannot do the same, they will go off the air. Yet, much of what is reported is either gossip or based on assumptions. Yes, there is always some truth intermingled, but either way, it violates the Ninth Commandment. Yes, they might have their ratings up in the public view, but those ratings will be worth nothing when judgment day comes. What was it Jesus said about people who continuously and deliberately spread gossip, or bring “false witness against [their] neighbor”? Oh yeah, he said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven . . . then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23). The word “lawlessness” refers to the Ten Commandments. Jesus was emphasizing His principle of love. “Love thy neighbor”. We simply can’t love our neighbor and be telling gossip and lies at the same time. Maybe that’s the reason Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man”. And James 3:6 warns us that the “tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

Well, the next time we get the urge to “gossip” or say things about someone that we simply do not have the facts to prove, we should remember this 9th commandment. And maybe, it would do us all some good to put into practice that ol’ cliché, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.”

I’m Pastor Robby teaching His Word, His Work, His Way.