The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 25:11-20 Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters. Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft tongue breaks the bone. Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it. Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Or he will become weary of you and hate you. Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
Who here has watched the Hobbit series of movies? If you have, you are familiar with the epic battle scenes where clubs, swords, and arrows are employed to wage war. In the movies these weapons wreak havoc on the field of battle. Bloodshed, carnage, destroyed lives, and death are left in the wake of advancing armies. In real life, history has been shaped by the use of these weapons of war. These tools were designed to inflict maximum damage to their target, incapacitate, and destroy them. Our passage today draws a parallel between theses weapons of war, and the man who would bear false witness: Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. In the politically charged environment in which we live, bearing false witness is all the rage. Everyone is doing it. We can look back a year and see the destruction that bearing false witness brought upon the life of Roy Moore. Most recently, Brett Kavanaugh. In both cases, accusers came out of the woodwork at the final hour, like cruise missiles programmed with one thing in mind: destroy. In truth, we do not know whether these two men were guilty of anything they were accused of, but we do know this: because of the evidence deficient, time eroded, and fragmented memory of witnesses making 30+ year old claims, one man had his life completely flipped upside down and plans derailed, and another escaped by the skin of his teeth, at huge cost to his family and reputation. The ninth commandment states: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.
Deuteronomy 19:16-20 says this:
“If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you”.
Maybe you are saying to yourself “I am definitely not running around accusing people of things like what we have seen in the news lately”. Let me attempt to paint a picture for you of what this bearing false witness may look like in our lives. Several weeks ago a coworker came to me and spun a story that involved possible illegal activity, a veiled threat of violence, and included a person who was unknowingly caught up in the whole thing. Knowing the background of the workplace, it sounded plausible. With the threat of violence, and an innocent person possibly caught up in this web, I decided to take action. I was quickly distanced from the event, but it became obvious that though the story may have been true, there was apparently no second or third witness to testify. Instead of justice, or a resolution, what ensued was 2 weeks of head spinning, accusations, gossip, veiled threats, and endless speculation by people who had no idea of any of the details that were spoken of. In the end, I do not know whether or not any of the accusations were true, but the carnage they caused was tremendous. The Bible commands us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. We are warned of the danger of multiplying words, because when we do, sin is not lacking. Being gossips, and busybodies, are to be avoided, but rather when we speak, our language should be seasoned with salt, giving grace to the hearer. Our Lord Jesus was betrayed by false witnesses, and we also betray Him when as children of God we choose lies over speaking the truth.
If you are able, please kneel as we confess how we have failed to keep God’s Law.
Heavenly Father, You hate lying lips. We profane Your Holiness with our mouths as we speak false witness against our neighbors. As Your image bearers, we display You as a liar to the world when we bear false witness against one another. Father, we multiply words so often, that in our gossiping we bear false witness and wreak havoc in the hearts of men. Please be merciful to us sinners. We have unclean lips, which reveal hearts that are full of envy, murder, and strife. Please forgive us of our sins O Lord. Please fill us with Your Spirit, that we may display self control in the words we use. Father, please help us to be a people who offer words of hope, life, and restoration, rather than words of death and destruction. We come to You seeking mercy, grace, and forgiveness, in the Name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. | Titus 2:11-14
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 10/07/18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)