I want to dive in deeper into the topic of bearing false witness. I am seeing this particular commandment frequently and passionately violated in today’s social media culture. Bearing false witness is of course one of the original Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 …
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Exodus 20:16 (KJV)
Let us study 3 key words in this commandment. Those 3 words being “bear false witness”. We have the bear word which in this case does not mean a large fuzzy animal found in the woods. This means the Hebrew word “anah” (pronounced aw-naw). This word means “to respond, speak, sing, shout, testify, or announce”. Then we have the false word. The Hebrew corresponding phrase there is “sheqer” meaning “untruth, deceit, lying, wrongful”. Finally we have witness. This is the Hebrew word “ayd” which means “testimony – specifically a recorder”.
Today we communicate via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to record ourselves “speaking out” on a variety of topics. But are all of our passionate social media posts 100% accurate? I can’t even endorse my own posts as 100% accurate all the time and I am very cognizant of bearing false witness. I certainly can’t endorse everyone else’s social media posts as true. It is in the inaccuracy percentage we identify the sheqer aka untruth.
Herein lies (pun intended) the main issue. So very few of us are witnesses to anything truly juicy on a national or world scene. I am witnessing so many witnesses whom aren’t even witnesses! This is not just about the impeachment of a President. This is about everything. This is me airing grievances on grievances being aired that were never witnessed first hand by the grieved. I’m a bit late for Festivus (a Seinfeld joke) but I’m compelled to air my grievances to you on this truly terrible trend. Why? Because people are bearing false witness far too casually and often.
If you witnessed a shocking event then that is different. In that case you are a true witness. Speak on what you have seen when appropriate to do so. However to call this person “a thief” or that person “a racist” or this person “a crook” from behind your iPhone just because you heard it through the grapevine or on television is a very dangerous thing. This is certainly not a thing we should be doing as Christians. I am telling you plainly you will be judged for this. It is written you will be judged for this. Not necessarily because of the times you got it right. You will be judged for the times you got it wrong …
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Matthew 12:36 (KJV)
And also this …
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.Mark 10:18 (KJV)
Now if Jesus himself said in scripture “don’t even call me good … only call God good” I feel we need to really reflect on this. We need to take a step back and evaluate our own harsh convictions of our brothers and sisters that we likely have never met or know behind closed doors. You very well likely have enemies and they very well be the most wicked folks on the earth – but you should want your enemy saved. I do realize how challenging that mentality can be to achieve. It takes practice and mental discipline. This is a prime opportunity for improvement. This is advanced Christianity.
I really try not to be a political person (as daunting a challenge as that can be in today’s world). I do want to say this one thing about the current political landscape in the United States. American citizens bearing false witness against the current President is far more damaging to America than any malicious action by any foreign national (aka “the Russians”). There are many policies passed by many US Presidents that I don’t agree with. However I am warning against bearing blatant false witness against any President or any Politician or any Celebrity or any person! Respect is hard when you really don’t want to respect the other person. That is exactly when respect is most needed. Again this is advanced Christianity. I encourage you to read 1 Samuel 24 as an example of respect for a political opponent in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 24 I speak of King David’s respect for King Saul.
The purity of your witnessing ability relies heavily on trust. If you witnessed an event first hand then you must trust your own eyes and ears to be a credible witness of the truth. If you believe slung dirt about a Politician on a news television channel then you are entrusting that news television channel as a credible witness. Especially if you decide to endorse and spread this dirt unto the eyes and ears of others. I would highly caution against this. All television channels and newspapers are comprised of humans. Humans have agendas. Agendas can easily be not to tell the truth. Even as I write this very message I encourage you to test everything I write with further due diligence for fear I error!
In the mean time, look at how your brothers and sisters bear false witness in real time. Not every tweet you see is bearing false witness – but now that I have mentioned it – can you identify bearing false witness when you see it? Here are some places to look for examples …