“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16
This command is pretty involved, and also has some similarities to the 6th commandment (do not murder). What does it mean to “give false testimony”?
Well, it includes lying, slander, gossip, being insensitive to others feelings. That is a lot of paying attention to what we say!
James talks a lot about our words in James 3:1-12. The tongue is one of the hardest things to tame, largely because it reflects our hearts. Our hearts are so sinful- even once we accept Christ as our savior, we are still fighting sin each and every day.
As we think about the words that come out of our mouth, remember to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Instead of gossiping, slandering, being sarcastic or insensitive, see if you can make your words encouraging, truthful, sensitive, and use them to build others up.
Remember that we are children of God and should treat each other that way. Sarcasm is especially interesting- it can be very tempting to use it; often it will make others laugh. But other people can be VERY sensitive, and words DO hurt. I know we all learned as kids that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
It would be nice if words didn’t hurt, but they do. As you are pondering encouraging words, remember the encouragement God gives our hearts- “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17).
And if (when) we slip up, though it is hard, we should swallow our pride and apologize to those we have wronged, and ask them to forgive us. So the next time you are tempted to say something unkind, untrue, or unproductive, remember this command and be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Do you need to be quicker to listen and slower to speak?