Interestingly, this command is basically a reiteration of "Thou shall not lie." The only real difference is that this command focuses more on relationships with others vs. lying in general. However, in order to know whether you are potentially bearing false witness and/or affecting a relationship, you must first understand what exactly a "lie" is. A lie, often re-named that we might justify ourselves includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- little white lie
- big lie
- stretching the truth
- intentionally misleading
- attempting to deceive
- not telling the whole truth
- being silent (for example, if someone innocently or intentionally relays incorrect information that you know to be untruthful, but you do not speak up)
Generally, a lie occurs as an attempt to make ourselves feel bigger or better. Bearing false witness takes this a step further, as it includes:
- gossip (we can measure our words with 3 questions: Is it true? Is it necessary? and Is it kind? If you answer "no" to any of those, then it likely qualifies as gossip.)
- listening to either of the above, even if you are not an active participant
Feeling guilty yet? I certainly was! The sermon concluded with the basic and simple fact that a lie or false witness is directly related to a heart that is not right with God. A heart not focused on God is naturally focused on itself. Therefore, everything we do, to some extent, is self-centered and selfish in some way. We are seeking some sort of self-gratification, trying to gain something--be it respect from others, attention, possessions, whatever. This, in turn, causes every relationship in our lives to be affected in some way. On the other hand, if we are truly seeking God's will, seeking to grow a closer relationship with God, striving to live a Godly example, etc., then our focus will be on God, and we are less likely to be selfish. An additional result is that we will gain a true desire and humility for helping those around us.
I hope I did the sermon justice here. It was very deep and detailed, and I have attempted to summarize. In any case, I am guilty of disobeying yet another commandment! I pray that God will continue to help me grow stronger in my areas of weakness, that no one around me will be negatively impacted or affected by my words or actions.