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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox

The Eighth Commandment

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

We should so fear and love God as not deceitfully to lie about, betray, slander, nor raise false reports against our neighbor, but apologize for him, speak well of him, and put the most charitable construction on all his actions. ~ Martin Luther

We often think that this commandment is "Do not lie," and while lying certainly fits in here, that isn't the crux of what this commandment is about.

The crux of this commandment harkens back to the commandment not to take the Lord's name in vain.

So, don't take anyone else's name in vain either.

I can't think of any commandment these days that is broken more publicly and frequently than this one. The rise - and let's face it, domination - of social media and the 24 hour news cycle has led to the ubiquity of breaking of the 8th commandment. It's everywhere.

In chat rooms and opinion pages. In Facebook posts, and Instagram feeds.

In Tik Tock, YouTube videos, and TV commentary. In tweets and in Snapchats.

In our daily lives, this commandment is broken probably dozens of times a day in our presence and hundreds or even thousands in the community around us. Maybe, probably, likely...we've broken it as well. Maybe even right now someone is springing to mind who you have negative thoughts about.

And our world has suffered for it.

For Luther, it wasn't enough to avoid speaking ill of someone. We are meant to speak well of them. To be charitable in our thoughts of them. To think the best of them rather than the worst, and even speak the best of them.

To remember that they are the neighbor - or enemy - we are called to love.

A Prayer by Martin Luther: Dearest God and Lord, strengthen and uphold us in your pure, precious Word through Jesus Christ our Lord, and help us to show and live our thanks with our fruits of faith to your praise and thanks forever. Amen.

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