In my recent articles, we've been exploring how the Golden Rule can be lived out by following the spirit of each of the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments speak to our posture before God, the fourth commandment focuses on the Sabbath rest that God wants to give us, while commandments five through 10 detail what Jesus spoke about when He said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37).
It was really the first and greatest commandment. The second, He says, is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is because all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. God desires that we live out the Golden Rule in every aspect of our lives, treating other people the way we want to be treated.
As we delve into the ninth commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," we will look at both the natural and spiritual implications.
Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man who has friends must show himself friendly." We should recognize that we don't want people to judge us falsely, so we have to be careful not to judge others. The late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Men's Network, used to say, "Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge" and "We tend to judge others by what they do, but ourselves by our good intentions." It's easy for us to be critical, opinionated and always second-guessing the actions and motives of other people.
1 Corinthians 10:10 says that one of the five offenses that kept Israel out of the promised land was "murmuring," or backbiting and gossip. I liken that to a spiritual immune deficiency disease because the body destroys itself. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with stage four 80% aggressive B cell lymphoma cancer, which caused certain cells in my body to destroy other cells of my body. The doctor's prognosis was not what we wanted to hear, which is our spiritual prognosis if we participate in murmuring, backbiting or gossip. Praise the Lord, God brought me through lymphoma victoriously and, by His grace, I am still standing.
That is why it is so important for us even today to not bear false witness, murmur, backbite or undermine other people, and not to rob others of what God intends for them. Even if we are not in agreement with someone, we have to be careful how we speak. James is very clear that the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can do great damage. The seemingly insignificant tongue can bring blessings or curses, so we must watch our words. It's easy to get into a routine of responding according to the flesh instead of the spirit. But today, I want to stress the importance of not bearing false witness against others. Keeping a right attitude will help us not to judge by what they do or don't do while judging ourselves by our good intentions. You see, we all want grace—so we must also give grace.
I often remind myself, my family and those around me that we should always speak the truth in love—seasoned with grace, of course, but the truth, nonetheless. It's about how we speak the truth that will render transformation and encouragement, and help build people up in the faith. When we speak truth in the wrong way, it diminishes people, depreciates people and breaks people down. Bullies are often those who gossip and say negative things about or to others as they try to bring them down to their own level. As Christ followers, we have to be above that. We must take the high road and be Christ-like even when we disagree. We can disagree with civility and in a way that allows a sense of redemption.
Sometimes we think we're speaking the truth, but our own perception is skewed. We may read something online or on social media and immediately form an uneducated opinion because we have not done our research to find out the whole truth. In the movie A Few Good Men, the general being questioned on the witness stand says, "You can't handle the truth." The reality, however, is that we need to be those who love the truth so that we can handle the truth. We have to be lovers of truth more than lovers of ourselves. We need to love the truth, love the Lord and love the way He works in and through us to disseminate His love and truth with grace and mercy. The truth can set people free.
Nothing is dearer to God than the integrity of His Word. The importance of God's Word cannot be overstated. The psalmist noted, "for You have exalted Your word above all Your name" (Ps. 138:2b). The New Testament stresses the steadfastness of His Word, which brings great comfort to all of us who believe Him for the assurance of our salvation:
"In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).
"So God, wanting to show more abundantly the immutability of His counsel to the heirs of promise, confirmed it by an oath. So that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Heb. 6:17-18).
The biblical record is clear—God's character is beyond suspicion and it is not possible for Him to tell a lie or break a promise! His very nature is the basis for commanding His people to be honest and upright.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.