15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:15–16, NKJV)
Both the Law of Moses and the gospel of Christ warn against the sin of talebearing. We are more accustomed to the word “gossip” (1 Tim. 5:13). It has been normalized, as millions flock to rumormongering as part of their usual, information-gathering process. (Witness TV shows like Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, and Page 6, and publications like People Magazine and National Enquirer, whose website tag is, “Hottest Celebrity Gossip & Entertainment News.”) Society is saturated with talebearing – juicy gossip that tingles the ears with baseless assumptions, groundless speculations, and false accusations against others. Israel was told not to be talebearers precisely because it is unrighteous judgment against others. You see, talebearing is about having power over others. It draws people into its snare, leading them to abandon reason and fairness, causing some to even “stand against the life” of the innocent on nothing more than hearsay. The talebearer is an untrustworthy liar. Wisdom teaches us not to associate with such folks, because talebearing causes wounds and strife (Prov. 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-22). The best way to put out the fire of talebearing is not to receive it. (And, don’t be the one who starts that flame, either!)
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:1–2, NKJV)
I just read an article about data mining that began with this provocative statement: “Everybody lies.” Is that statement true, or is it a lie? The author’s declarative statement is different from saying, “I have never lied.” And, it is different than saying, “I will never be tempted to lie.” His statement implies ongoing action. He asserts everyone always lies. We object to this over-broad pronouncement. Yes, the world is full of liars. But, you do not have to be one of them. The gospel calls Christians out of a life of lies, into speaking truth: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). The Scriptures tell us that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Will everyone be lost? If not, then at least some liars are no longer liars. Some have repented of lying, obeyed the gospel and no longer lie. They were converted to Christ, and put away their lying. If you are a liar, then stop your lying and speak the truth. Your incentive is eternal life; your warning is hell’s eternal death.
What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar. (Proverbs 19:22, NKJV)
God looks behind our actions, and sees our motives and intentions. God expects us to have both clean hands and pure hearts prompting what our hands find to do (Jas. 4:8). What desire of the heart are you accomplishing by your actions? Here, Solomon notes that kindness is measured and meted out by what is in the heart. A poor man who shows kindness from an empathetic heart (though he possesses little), is of greater value than the rich man who says kind things, but does little (1 Jno. 3:17-18; Jas. 2:15-16). When we say, yet fail to do, we show ourselves to be liars. Solomon acknowledges this, in order to urge us to be sure that our kind acts toward others are a genuine reflection of our heart, and not an exercise in vanity and self-promotion. If they are, then we have our reward (Matt. 6:1-4).
43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:43–44, NKJV)
Jesus challenged His audience to examine why they argued with Him and opposed His teachings. Why did they refuse to know and abide in the truth (Jno. 8:31-32)? Why couldn’t they understand what He was saying? Not because it was unknowable, but because they were not listening to Him with willing hearts. They were not committed to knowing and following His word (v. 43). Why were their hearts so closed that they would not believe and follow Jesus? Because they desired the sins of the devil instead of the truth of God (v. 44). The devil is a liar who convinces people not to believe the Bible, the word of God. He lies about Jesus, the Son of God. He lies about His gospel, God’s power to save. He lies about Christians as they follow the truth of Christ. At some point, all who reject the word of Jesus must face what is apparent: They are children of the devil, not children of God. That which we desire will be reflected in our attitude and actions toward Jesus and His word of truth.