You Shall Not Bear False Witness

A few months back, I brought up the Ten Commandments and suggested we look at "You Shall Not Murder". I hope you will be interested enough to go back and read the Thought on Murder at the link above.

I would like to chat some more about the anger problem that seems to be a rising issue in much of the over-developed world. This anger issue, this slander problem, this hatred and murder problem, stems from bearing or believing false witness against our neighbor. The ninth of the Ten Commandments is "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor". What does it mean to bear false witness against someone? That is when you assume you understand what someone else is feeling, thinking, saying, reacting to, meaning, or doing and then you respond to that or report on that to someone else. We do it every day at some level. We report to someone on what someone else said or did or thought, and we actually did not fully know what that person was saying, doing or thinking. Usually we do that because we sincerely misunderstood the situation, but quite often we or others slightly or significantly change the report to make it shorter or more interesting or sensational. Sometimes people just lie. I would argue that virtually every report we hear is at least partially untrue.

Much of my time is spent on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. It is interesting to be around when something happens or when some statement is made and then to see it on the news or see a clip played on social media. It is shocking to see the difference! We often only see or hear or report what we have been preconditioned to see or hear. That preconditioning comes from the testimony or witness that others have given to us. In other words, we are preconditioned to perceive the world in a certain way. That way of seeing is shaped and molded by the current and past witness of those around us; be it family, friends, education, political associations, news reports, social media, or one of many other factors.

So, what does that lead to? It leads to me making a lot of decisions or at least forming opinions about people and ideas and actions with a certain amount of knowledge that is false. Once I have believed something that is false or at least partially untrue, I have allowed a false view or a false witness to come into my mind. Unless I understand and believe that my impressions are not completely accurate, I will likely spread my opinions to others and error will expand.

We should not bear false witness against our neighbor. We should not believe everything we hear or read. In James 1:19-20 it says, "My brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

We can't stop others from being angry and acting like foolish, undisciplined, mean spirited children, but we can control ourselves. We can become good listeners; discerning listeners. We can become slow to speak and slow to anger. Rather than becoming fearful or agitated by the actions or thoughts of others, we can become a voice of reason and a visible expression of hope and peace and joy. We can become people who focus on the healer, Jesus, rather than the wounds or the woundedness around us.

Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14:1)