Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1
During the 2018 baseball season, a Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. But when the coach tossed the ball toward him, a man scooped it up instead. Video of the event went viral. News outlets and social media skewered this “brute” of a man. Except viewers didn’t know the whole story. Earlier, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball, and they agreed to share any additional balls that came their way. Unfortunately, it took twenty-four hours before the true story emerged. The mob had already done its damage, demonizing an innocent man.
Too often, we think we have all the facts when we only have fragments. In our modern gotcha culture, with snippets of dramatic video and inflamed tweets, it’s easy to condemn people without hearing the full story. However, Scripture warns us not to “spread false reports” (Exodus 23:1). We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations, making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever a vigilante spirit takes hold, whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “follow[ing] the crowd in doing wrong” (v. 2).
As believers in Jesus, may God help us not to spread falsehoods. May He provide what we need to exhibit wisdom and to make certain our words are actually true.
Take a moment to recollect a time when someone was falsely accused. What was the damage, and how was the wrong made right?
God, with things moving so fast these days, it’s often hard to know what’s real. Help me to listen, pay attention, and speak only the truth.
God gave the Ten Commandments so His people could know how to love Him faithfully and wholeheartedly (Exodus 20:1–11; Matthew 22:38) and love their neighbor as they’d love themselves (Exodus 20:12–17; Matthew 22:39). Moses then laid down various stipulations that if followed would enable the Israelites to love their neighbors (Exodus 21:1–23:9). Because “the Lord is righteous, [and] he loves justice” (Psalm 11:7), Moses commanded them to “follow justice and justice alone” (Deuteronomy 16:20). “To act justly and to love mercy” is mandated of God’s people (Micah 6:8). Love for neighbors means justice for everyone. Today’s passage, Exodus 23:1–9, is an application of the ninth commandment, which ensured evenhanded, impartial justice for all: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (20:16). False accusation, malicious testimony, slander, and withholding justice because of external pressure, favoritism, or bribery all contribute to the perversion of true justice and repudiation of neighborly love.