Proverbs 25:18 says:
Like a club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow, is the one who bears false witness against his neighbor
And who is our neighbor? Jesus is clear about that, at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan he says:
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise
I know that the power of lies is multi-faceted, but for this moment I really want to focus on the kind of lies that feed on the need to judge and condemn our neighbors by corralling them into groups of “unworthy” or “sinners.” When Jesus was confronted with an angry mob demanding justice for a fallen woman, he asked that whomever was without sin throw the first stone…none did, and they left. Jesus did not judge her either, instead he asked her to go and sin no more. He also said this about judgement in Matthew 7:1:
Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
I use these scriptural references specifically to challenge all those who spend most of their time judging others, often without offer of proof besides they “heard” it somewhere or simply by distorting the truth to their selfish benefit…because the foundation of our faith lies, not in pointing the finger at groups deemed unworthy by any person or entity, but to demonstrate that we treat our neighbors with mercy, recognize that we are all sinners and the measure we use to judge others is the same measure that will be used against us.
The ninth commandment asks us to not bear false witness against our neighbor, it is one of the very foundations of our Judeo Christian heritage. And while there is plenty of substance available to determine who is perpetuating the destructive kind of lies Jesus and others have warned us about…I think those who really are committed to the truth can simply see if those spreading the lies are those who gain power from throwing stones, and corralling the “unworthy” as the fall victims, especially since one of the last instructions of Jesus was to say: that which you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me. Condemnation belongs to God, we are asked to show love and mercy see and hear clearly through the words of Jesus who was sent to save anyone who embraces his word and example.
There is a great deal of power gained from spreading lies and stoking people’s fears and sense of superiority, but that is the power of darkness at work, and not heaven. Jesus said that the truth will set you free, not make you powerful…that comes from God alone. So when someone tries to tell you they are the only source of truth and that the source of evil lies in the “other sinner” turn away quickly and walk away.