eMeditation on the Bible 

 

Question: What are the objectives of the ninth commandment: ďDonít make a false accusation against anyoneĒ? 

 

General Principles 

The primary purposes of the ninth commandment are: 

1.     To maintain social harmony within a community. Social harmony requires trust between people and groups of people. When what people say to each other, customers and authorities (such as managers, government officials and judges) is a mixture of falsehood and truth, social structures break down: people act out of suspicion, fear and the need to protect themselves from others. The integrity of society is the basis for a well-functioning society. Without widespread honesty, a society becomes infected with the disease of corruption: businesses make low quality products or impure foods to save money; citizens need to bribe officials for government services; political party members use their power to get advantages ordinary citizens donít have as well as to become very rich; etc. 

2.     To preserve the honor of other people. God loves everyone and desires for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect. A personís reputation is one of their most important assets. When we make negative statements about someone else or create doubt about their character, we are injuring their reputation and harming their well-being within society, the workplace or the legal system, etc. The ninth commandment forbids us from gaining honor at the expense of other people, especially those with whom we may be competing for promotions at work or any social advantage. The words that we speak about others must never become weapons to weaken their position in society; instead, what we say about others ought to raise their social status whenever we can do so with honesty. 

3.     To end the continuation of stereotypes about people who are different from us ethnically, culturally and nationally. When we attribute certain qualities (e.g., violent, untrustworthy, lazy, dumb, etc.) to a group of people and assume they are true of most or almost all the members of the group, we are stereotyping. The human family has a long history of making assumptions about groups of people who are different from oneís own group and then viewing them through that lens. This tendency to stereotype other groups continues to be very strong today. It has done great harm to minorities within societies. Viewing others according to stereotypes has: deprived people of their natural rights; resulted in fear of others and violence toward them; justified exploitation of certain groups and actually slavery; and made it very difficult for foreigners to live outside their homeland. The unending conflicts between nations is fueled by the human tendency to stereotype the people of other nations. 

 

Personal Application 

As followers of Jesus, we promote social harmony by honesty, protecting the reputations of others and refusing to view people who are different from us through the lens of stereotyping. We pursue these values in our lives because Godís love motivates us to treat everyone the way we want to be treated by others.  

 

Respond by Growing 

Although living a life that promotes social harmony will not by itself transform the world or your community, nevertheless, when you do what you can to advance social harmony within your community it will make a difference for those who are impacted by your life, both directly and indirectly. And you will please and bring honor to your heavenly father.