Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone 10.25.12
Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012 6:02 pm
Nothing but the truth
By Camille Kendall
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. — Exodus 20:16
The Heidelberg Catechism asks in Question 112: What is God’s will for you in the Ninth Commandment? Answer: God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause. Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on me God’s intense anger. I should love the truth, speak it candidly and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.
I remember as a youth being called to testify in a court trial involving a contested will. I climbed into the dark wood-paneled witness box and swore to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” The somber courtroom, the robed judge, the suit-clad attorneys at their tables impressed me with a sense of great responsibility. Anything I said in answer to a question that morning would clearly be serious business!
How often have I flapped my tongue without considering my words as carefully as I did when I sat in that witness box many years ago! A critical or derogatory comment about a neighbor or family member, a “slanted” version of a story that portrays someone negatively or that unduly exalts myself, an unnecessary verbal jab or sarcastic comment about another. … Yes, I’m guilty of all of these violations of the Ninth Commandment. Not only have I frequently misrepresented or maligned my neighbor, but I have also often stood by and failed to protect and defend my neighbor’s good name.
Scripture tells us: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). If I profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ but then malign or misrepresent my neighbor, I expose a duplicitous heart that shows me to be a deceiver — like the devil himself. Ouch!
When I find myself once again exaggerating a story, or spreading gossip, or generously sharing what would be better kept to myself, I must repent and ask God’s forgiveness. This offense is a gross sin against God’s holiness. And again, I thank God that Jesus kept this Commandment perfectly on my behalf! Can you imagine living your entire life without misspeaking even once? Amazing! Truly, I have a wonderful Savior!
Proverbs 10:19 reads, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Perhaps we would all do well to simply speak less. Resist the urge to blab. Zip our lips. And when we do speak, my Mom’s advice proves helpful: Pause first and consider the words you are about to say. Are they true? Are they kind? Are they necessary? Are they helpful?
May each day find our speech to be more gracious, more edifying to others, and more honoring to God.
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall, wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.
Published in The Messenger 10.25.12