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Archive for September 24th, 2018

True Speech | A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15: 4 | image tagged in proverb | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The Eighth CommandmentYou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

(The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther)

The giving of false testimony is not limited to courts of law but also applies to the court of public opinion.  With the advent of the internet and with it, Facebook, blogging, tweets and the like, there seems to be an exponential growth of virulent breaking of the 8th commandment.  Lies, betrayal, slander, ruining a neighbor’s reputation have exponentially increased in cyber-speed.  In politics, defending our  neighbor, speaking well of him and explaining his actions in the “kindest way” is a joke.   This should not be a joke in the Church. Yet, in both Church and society, if there is an actual breaking of civil law and/or God’s Law, there are established means to correct the lawbreaker.  The first means of keeping the Commandment is for us:  upon hearing or reading a bad report about someone is to first keep still about it.  Why? 

1.  It might not be true.

2. I probably don’t have the whole story.

3. I am not jury nor judge.

4. If it is a wrong, to pray for the wrong doer.

Loving your neighbor as yourself under this Commandment means I would want those considerations when I have done that which is immoral and unethical.   We can clearly read the continuing slander and the hurting of reputations go apace each and everyday. 

We are living in lawless times when even the Constitution is up for grabs as many want even a new constitution.  But that uncivil social desire was born in ungodliness from many church bodies who rebelled against the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures, even voting down the 6th Commandment as they went for same-sex “marriage”: 

Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,  and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 5:24

Many in Israel, “rejected the Law of the Lord of hosts”.  Many in the Church have likewise done the same, so we hear the Babel of our days.

We can use our tongues to betray, slander, or hurt the reputation of our neighbor.  During World War II, with Nazi spies in our cities, they could overhear casual conversations of soldiers and sailors talking about  troop deployments in Europe or the location of the fleet in the Mediterranean.  There was a saying then, Loose lips, sink ships.  Biblically, this goes for us today and this would mean the nation is sinking as it is taking on water at an alarming rate.  Psalm 12:3-4:

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us
?”

We see daily the results of the old Adam as master of his own tongue from gossip around the water cooler to around the block, from the White House to our house:  wrecked reputations, fake gospels, innuendo, half-truths and heresies.  In Baptism, we have a crucified tongue in Christ, and alive in Him our tongues loosed to praise of God and edification for our neighbors. The Lord is the Lord also of our tongues.  In Vespers, the Church sings, Psalm 141:3,

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” 

This is an apt prayer before writing and speaking.  We speak of Him who from His lips says to us in our  ears for the sins of the tongue, Your sins are forgiven.  Then in the morning, the Church sings, Psalm 51: 15,

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

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