False Witnesses and Gossips Deut 19:16-21 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
I have seen, over the years, a terrible flaw in human nature that is prevalent even among Christians. The flaw is intentional or unintentional lying about another person and it is often connected with gossiping. You hear something, or you may even know something, about another person and when repeating the matter to others, you exaggerate and thus distort the truth, if there was ever any truth to your story in the first place.
The Bible is clearly against gossiping and it is even stricter when it comes to bearing false witness against somebody. Today we are going to look at the admonitions against gossiping, then we are going to look at what happens to false witnesses and we will conclude by showing you what to do when you are approached by a gossip or when you are slandered by a false witness.
How to handle gossip and lies:
Don’t Gossip – see Lev 19:16; Prov 26:20-22 – these verses show you that you are not to gossip – what you repeat may seem harmless to you but it won’t be harmless to the one about whom you are talking – it will hurt them and it can destroy your relationship with them or with others.
Don’t Bear False Witness – see Ex 20:16 – the commandment is explicitly clear – you are not to lie, stretch the truth, tell a half truth, state conjecture as if it were the truth or any such thing that could be a lie or a distorted truth about someone else. See Deut 19:16-21. In this passage we see a very sobering truth – if you testify against someone else and your testimony is a false witness, then the judgment you hoped to win against them will be exacted against you. Jezebel raised up false witnesses against Naboth to have him killed and to procure his vineyard for her husband [1 Ki 21:7-14] – in the very place that the dogs licked Naboth’s blood, they licked Ahab’s blood [1 Ki 21:19] and Jezebel was eaten by dogs [1 Ki 21:23]. The Pharisees raised up false witnesses to destroy Jesus [Mk 14:55-59] and by 70AD, their temple and their country had been destroyed, they were killed and those who survived were scattered abroad. Don’t you ever tell something on someone else that is not 100% true and accurate and only tell it when you must.
Don’t Listen – see Prov 20:19 – this verse shows you that you aren’t to even listen to gossip – gossip can’t be repeated if there isn’t an audience – if you wait to decide whether to repeat a matter until after you have heard it, you may not be able to keep it to yourself – if you don’t know the gossip, then you can’t repeat it and if the talebearer doesn’t have anyone to tell, then the gossip will stop.
Don’t Reply – see 1 Pet 2:15, 20-23 – the temptation, when someone is talking bad about you, is to go behind them and restore your “good” name – but the reality is that when you reply to their slander, people think you are guilty – and they may ask you more questions than you are willing to answer and you may be prone to lie to cover the truth – you might even lie about the other person to make them look bad – the whole thing is a mess – truly, you are better to not worry about “them” – just draw close to the Lord; he will protect you [Ps 18:1-3] – and if there is even an element of truth to what they are saying, straighten out your life so that there won’t be any legitimate cause against you – in time, if there is untruth in what they are saying, it will be known that you were right and they were wrong.
Conclusion: If you have had the habit of gossiping over the years, stop it. If you have borne false witness against somebody, apologize and tell the truth, if you are approached by a gossip, don’t listen and if you are slandered, don’t reply or retaliate.