16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him (Genesis 50:16–17, NKJV).
There are few more poignant scenes of merciful forgiveness in the Bible than Joseph toward his brothers. They had hated and envied him (Gen. 37:3-11). Some of them wanted to kill him before agreeing to sell him to traders (who sold him into slavery in Egypt). Then, they lied about his death to their father and silently watched him grieve (Gen. 37:12-36). Now their father was dead, and they feared retribution (Gen. 50:15). In contrition, they fell before Joseph, entirely at his mercy (Gen. 50:18). Joseph forgave their sins against him with humble faith in God (Gen. 50:19-20). Instead of responding with bitter, resentful retaliation, Joseph comforted their fears with kindness and promised to provide for them and their children (Gen. 50:21). Oh, that we may forgive others this way! Surely, in Christ, this is how God forgives our sins against Him (Luke 15:17-24; Eph. 2:4-7; 4:31-32). Remember, God will not forgive us if we do not forgive each other from the heart (Matt. 18:35; 6:14-15).
12 “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” (Romans 3:12–14, NKJV)
In this passage the apostle used a number of quotations from the Psalms and the Prophets to fortify his statement that “all are under sin” (Rom. 3:9). In verse 12 he applies Psalm 14:3, pointing out the futility of seeking satisfaction in things that turn us away from God and His way of truth. Sin’s futility is exposed – it never delivers what it promises (2 Pet. 2:19). Next, Paul quoted Psalm 5:9, 40:3, and 10:7 in verses 13 and 14 to amplify the sins of the tongue. Our words come from our heart, therefore, when we lie, curse and speak bitter words we reveal malice and contempt in our heart. Stinging words that hurt and harm identify a real and present danger to our souls. We must control our heart to speak words that are fitting, not destructive (Prov. 25:11). We must use God’s word to identify our sins. By doing so we can be convicted, leading to repentance (Acts 2:37-38). Otherwise, we remain enslaved to sin and spiritually dead.
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.
A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28, NKJV)
Lying does not build up others; just the opposite. Lies hurt, harm and crush the spirit and lives of those to whom they are told. Christians put away lying and “speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). We do not tell the truth only when it helps us, but then resort to lies when the truth is inconvenient. To think that way is not honest; it is self-serving deception. Note from today’s verse that telling a lie shows hatred toward the one to whom it is told. If you lie to someone, you are hating them, not loving them. Did you ever stop to realize that before telling a lie? Flattery is of the same nature; falsifying one’s true attitudes in order to gain an advantage with a person. Lying is a sin that crushes others, but most tragically, it finally crushes the liar with the eternal punishment of hell (Rev. 21:8). So, don’t be a hater; tell the truth.
“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:3, NKJV)
Among the sins in Judah that brought Jeremiah to tears were the lies that characterized their daily existence. Dishonesty had become their nature; deceit and lies prevailed in the land rather than truth. God is a God of truth and utter integrity, and He hates “a lying tongue” (Prov. 6:16-17). His people must be holy, as He is holy. But, Judah ran from sin to sin, conforming to the evil around them instead of the holiness of Jehovah. This stern warning of divine rebuke and judgment stirs our devotion to truth, to be trustworthy in word and deed. Since “every transgression and disobedience received a just reward” under the Law of Moses, we will not escape if we choose lies over truth (Heb. 2:2-3). Be noble and brave for the truth, even when those around you speak lies. “Refrain your tongue from evil” and your “lips from speaking deceit” (1 Pet. 3:10).
7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and try them; For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people? 8 Their tongue is an arrow shot out; It speaks deceit; One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the Lord. “Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 9:7–9, NKJV)
God’s ancient people needed refining; the dross had to be removed. Jerusalem and Judah was to be cleansed by God’s punishment (Babylonian destruction and exile, Jer. 25:1-14). One of their pervasive sins was speaking deceitful words. They spoke flattering lies with hearts full of malice. From this we learn that God takes note of our words and of our heart that prompts what we say. God saw their flattering, malicious lies as a personal affront to His holy character. He would avenge Himself on the unholy nation. This impresses us to realize that when we speak lies we sin against God Himself. Sins of the tongue do not escape His notice or His judgment. May we purify our hearts so that both our words and our hearts are acceptable to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel (Psa. 19:14).