“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (NIV)
There are people in prison today who are there because someone has falsely testified against them. Sometimes we read in the press about terrible miscarriages of justice that have taken place because one person gave false witness against another. While giving false witness is a terrible thing, even the smallest of lies usually has consequences. The trouble with lies is that they entrap us. When we are untruthful it is often the case that one lie leads to another. Although we are always hopeful of improving a situation through lying, lies are eventually discovered and those who lie or bear false witness have to face up to the consequences of lying.
I learned the lesson early in life. I had been forbidden to walk home from school, but one day I did. When I arrived home my mother asked if I had traveled home on the school bus. I told her that I had. Then she asked who I had sat next to on the bus. That stumped me momentarily, until I managed to pluck a name out of the air. Then my mother asked me if I had disobeyed her and walked home. I insisted that I had been on the bus. Unfortunately for me my mother had watched the bus stop outside our house ten minutes earlier and she knew I hadn’t been on the bus. I went to bed early that night. It gave me plenty of time to think about what I had done.
God is very clear regarding what He thinks about lies and false witness. The trouble with false witness is that it is bad witness. God calls His people to demonstrate His eternal investment in them through the way that they live their lives. Lying is not an acceptable component of a life surrendered to God. Jesus warned a group of Pharisees about the fruit of the mouth, and His teaching applies equally to us.
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NIV)
A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. (NLT)
A Good Meal
I visited Pristina in Kosovo for the first time recently. I found the locals exceptionally welcoming and friendly, despite their recent troubles, and the obvious lack of wealth in the country. It was a pleasure to be taken out one evening for a meal in traditional restaurant where there was no menu. Instead of choosing our food, it was chosen for us, and a variety of dishes were brought to the table until none of us could eat any more.
The food was superb and I returned to my hotel extremely satisfied. I don’t know if I will ever go back to Pristina, but I will never forget that meal, or the kind people of Kosovo.
Just as a good meal brings satisfaction, so it is with wise words. You know when you have said the right thing to someone, a word of encouragement perhaps, or a word of appreciation. The knowledge that the right thing has been said at the right time brings satisfaction to both the speaker and the listener.
Before I left Kosovo my main local contact thanked me for the way in which I had conducted my review of his organization. Apparently my approach was very different to that of auditors in his company, and he appreciated it. I, in turn, thanked him for his time, for his hospitality, and for the effort he put into preparing for my visit. I also expressed my appreciation of his professional knowledge and expertise. He encouraged me, and I encouraged him. Right words, good words, wise words.
Words are so important. We have the power to bless and build others with our words. Let’s aim to bring satisfaction to others with our words every day. May our words be words that will never be forgotten – for the right reason.
“A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
As Anthony discussed yesterday, the things we say can lead to a good, old-fashioned punishment, such as soap in the mouth, a spanking, or other bad consequences.
When I was going through my later primary and early secondary education, up until about the start of my Junior year of high school, I had a penchant for stretching the truth or outright lying.
Here are some things I learned:
- misrepresentations and lies only spread distrust, hatred, and problems.
- relationships are damaged and/or lost.
- eventually, you start to believe your own lies.
- eventually, you must face the consequences in one way or another.
Our world is full of lies spread by any number of people. Whether it comes in the form of religion, science, or social constructs, we are bombarded daily with lies.
Some of these lies have immediate bad consequences: we may see church splits or new religions, increased taxes or restrictive laws, or fights or wars.
The most dangerous have eternal consequences. As we continue to spread lies, we not only hurt each other, but we may end up apart from God after we die.
That is hell, and it is not ever a good alternative.
Lord of Truth, help us to hear and speak Your words. Make us aware of the lies of this world and in our hearts. Save us from our own snares and destruction by Your grace and for Your glory.
“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”
The deepest waters in our world are found in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is reported to be 6.831 miles below sea level. The trench has been explored during several scientific expeditions, but for most of us it is just a name on a map or chart, or an entry in Wikipedia. Despite the efforts of scientists the deepest parts of the ocean generally remain a mystery because of their inaccessibility.
But even a rock pool is a different world. Life is different in the water. There are strange creatures and unusual colors. To reach the best and deepest pools it is necessary to scramble out across the rocks at low tide. This is something I did regularly as a child. Although my friends and I returned often to our favorite rock pools, they were never the same. Each new tide brought changes, trapping different creatures.
And so it is necessary to explore and go deep when searching for words to use in our daily encounters with other human beings, and also with God. We have to be careful with words. We have to be wise users of language. We need to develop a wellspring of wisdom as a resource on which we can draw every time we speak.
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)