Do Not Bear False Witness

Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  Exodus 20:16

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

I recently heard a good definition for the word “lie.”  A lie is an attempt to rewrite history.  If we are okay with history as it has happened, there is no need to rewrite it.  So why do people rewrite history, why do they lie?  A lie may be a result of not being happy with what is true, thus the need to change the truth. 

Here is a hypothetical situation where people lie: 

Johnny, a 25 year old, has been invited by friends to go on a 20 mile bike ride.  Problem is, Johnny doesn’t know how to ride a bike.  So, he has a couple of choices for what to do.

a)      He can be honest, and say he doesn’t know how to ride a bike.  The problem there is that the truth could bring embarrassment for Johnny.

b)     He can say he has something else to do that day, in which case his friends will probably be frustrated with him.

c)      He can go for the “big lie”—He can say that he is a “bike champion” but hurt his leg and there for cannot ride a bike any more.  This way, he looks good and isn’t able to go because of a legitimate reason. 

Most people, when confronted with such a situation, choose option #3, and go for the “big lie” rather than tell the truth.  Why not tell the truth?  In this case, it risks potential ridicule. 

Now, what should Johnny do?  Johnny should tell the truth to a close friend, and ask the friend to teach him to ride a bike. This requires humility on Johnny’s part.  This requires a level of caring from a close friend.  If Johnny goes with this scenario, he’s able to face the fact that he never learned how to ride a bike, he can learn to ride a bike, and he can have an enjoyable ride with his friends. 

Many times, we are afraid to tell the truth.  We lack the close friend who will be patient and not judge us if we have a deficiency, even one that can be repaired.  If we create an environment where people don’t have to be scared to tell the truth, it would make it a lot easier to tell the truth consistently.  

A couple of final thoughts on being truthful.  In the interest of gaining acceptance we often feel the need to exaggerate or stretch the truth.  Because we live in a society where people are judged by their resume, we feel pressure to augment our “resumes,” whether we are talking about a job or college application, or just boasting about life experiences.  This leads to environments where it isn’t enough to be honest.  Because people think “everyone cheats,” then everyone cheats.  I have talked to numerous high school students, as an example, who say that everyone cheats, and that if you don’t cheat you won’t get a good grade, and if you don’t get a good grade, you have less chance of getting into college.  In others words, there are people almost feel “forced’ to cheat.  Same thing in the work place, people feel they have to cheat in order to get promoted.  There is obviously a lot of work to be done in the area of honesty in school and in the workplace and it goes back to creating and fostering environments that put emphasis on honesty and integrity.

Sadly, there are many relationships that are not honest either.  For fear of offending someone and losing a friendship, we lack the courage sometimes to be honest.  There are people who don’t have many friends, or have a hard time making friends, who are afraid of being honest about things that bother them and go along with things that bother them just to stay in a friendship.  Many adults who are happily married will look back at their first boyfriend/girlfriend and admit they stayed in a relationship too long because they couldn’t be honest with themselves that it was a bad relationship.  Many people who are not dating happily continue to do so because they are in love with an idea (having someone versus having no one) than the person they are dating.  Creating an environment in a relationship where it is safe to be honest is almost like a rare work of art—it is rare, special, and takes work and care.  If people can frame relationships around a premise of “I don’t want to hurt you, I want to make this work, I will forgive easily and look at you in the best light possible,” then it makes it more likely that honesty can flourish in that relationship. 

Points to ponder under this commandment include:

Have I given false testimony against anyone?

Have I spoken evil, told lies or spread rumors about anyone?

Have I disclosed to anyone the sins and faults of another?

Have I made careless statements or done anything else to harm the name and reputation of another?

Have I engaged in idle gossip?

Lord, help me to be a person who stands up for truth.  Help me to be truthful and honest at all times.  Help me to create an environment that encourages those around me to be honest.  And help me to be patient and forgiving, if a person’s honesty exposes a shortcoming of theirs to me.  Amen. 

Be truthful today!  Encourage others to be truthful by creating environments where it is safe to be honest!  Accept people more easily for who they are, rather than creating environments that encourage people to be who they aren’t!

+Fr. Stavros

         

With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.

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The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

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Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John…
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