Ninth Commandment: Do not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light
and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Thoughts: Calvin once said, "We must not call 'black' 'white' under the pretext we are forbidden to offend anyone. There are many who would like to see nothing condemned and would prefer that we disguise the language of the guilty (thus crimes are not condemned under their proper name- like 'thief')." Flattery is a form of false witness. In the church, we seek so much to be nice people that we forget to stand up for our faith. It is a hard thing in a world that has lost its moral compass to stand up for faith. Often the prophets were martyrs. People do not thank you for disagreeing with their lifestyle or morals. Yet, speaking the truth in humility and love are important. Flattery may keep a relationship from failing, but flattery refuses to allow depth, trust, rebuke, and correction. Proverbs 9:8 says, "Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you." A flatterer deceives in order not to offend- sometimes to the point of calling good evil and evil good. Those around the emperor (in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes") did not want to disappoint the emperor by telling him the truth, afraid of his wrath or to make him feel bad. The emperor had a lot of shallow followers, but no one who really believed in him or trusted him- and no one he could trust.
Prayer: Let my words reflect reality, O Lord. Give me grace to speak the truth in love.
John Calvin Abridged: Today the world has come to the point that it seems that we are not good friends and are not faithful and loyal to those with whom we associate unless we acquiesce in their favor when they are wrong. When they are guilty and we ought to be calling this to their attention and chastising them, we turn to eloquent perjury instead...That is how we esteem God's truth. (Sermons- quoted in Hauerwas and Willimon "The Truth About God.")