January 28, 2009 - Wednesday of the Third Week after Epiphany

Daily Lectionary: Zechariah 6:1—7:14; Romans 16:17-27

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. (The Eighth Commandment)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You know how it hurts when people talk badly about you or tell your secrets. And you know they do it behind your back, because you do it behind theirs. Funny, isn't it, how we can get everyone laughing at us when we're cutting someone else down, but we get downright mad and hurt when it happens to us. God gives us the Eighth Commandment to show what terrible sinners we are with our words. The Eighth Commandment forbids us to lie about others in order to hurt them. But it also forbids us from speaking the truth when that will hurt someone. It also teaches us to speak well of others.

Pretty impossible! We love to speak badly of others. We love to assume the worst. We are good at hearing gossip and even better at passing it along. And the worst part is, if something is true, then we don't even think it's gossip! Well, how would you like it if God did that to you? How would you like it if He told everyone what a sinner you are? How would you like it if the Lord, who knows your heart, told others about what you think and imagine in the deepest, darkest corners of your mind? What if the Lord told the world about what it is you think and say and do when you think no one is looking?

But the Lord can't do that, because that wouldn't be the truth. The Bible says that Jesus is the truth. And Jesus died for your sins. He was covered in them. Jesus had lies and false testimony spoken about Him that set Him up on the Cross for the sins of the whole world. Now, baptized into Christ, your sins have been forgiven. Absolved and fed with Jesus' body and blood, the truth about you is that you are not a sinner. In Jesus, you have no sins. No secrets. The world can hear and see that you are perfect in Jesus. The only testimony God gives about you now is that you are His beloved child in Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Bear no false witness nor defame Your neighbor nor destroy his name, But view him in the kindest way; Speak truth in all that you say.” Have mercy, Lord! (LSB 581:9)