Summary: A Sermon on the Ninth Commandment
“No lies about your neighbor.” Ex. 20:16
This Commandment has to do with controlling our tongue. That is a very important, but extremely difficult task. James tells us the tongue can be tamed by no man, James 3:1-8.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin comments: Over the past decade, whenever I have lectured throughout the country on the powerful, and often negative, impact of words, I have asked audiences if they can go for twenty-four hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, anybody. Invariably, a minority of listeners raise their hands signifying yes, some laugh, and quite a large number call out, no! I respond by saying, "Those who can’t answer yes must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you cannot go for twenty-four hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine. If you cannot go twenty-four hours without a drink, you’re most likely an alcoholic. Similarly, if you cannot go for twenty-four hours without saying unkind words about others, then you have lost control over your tongue."
Few people realize the awesome, destructive power of the human tongue. Because of a miss-spoken word, homes have been splintered, reputations shattered and lives literally destroyed and even ended. The little piece of muscle that lies in your mouth behind your lips and your teeth can bless or bruise, heal or hurt, love or lie. It all depends upon how you use it.
This verse deals primarily with one’s testimony in a trial setting. God says that we must never be guilty of lying about our neighbor and causing them to suffer. We are exhorted to always be truthful and absolutely honest when dealing with another person. As we consider some of what God has said about the tongue, may He help us to understand that every time we speak of another, we literally hold others reputation in our hands.
1. A Reputation is a Valuable Possession
According to the Bible, one’s "good name", or reputation, is far more valuable than riches or expensive ointments, Pro. 22:1; Eccl. 7:1. A. Your Reputation Determines the Level Of Respect You Receive - No one puts much confidence in a person who is dishonest, deceptive, or otherwise living his life in a sinful, shameful manner. I really respect people about whom I never hear a negative remark. Jesus was such a man
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52.
We should do all that is in our power to see that we never allow our names to be associated with that which is disrespectful and shameful. It will undermine your good name and cause people to lose respect for you. Your life ought to be a beacon of integrity and decency.
B. Your Reputation Determines The Level Of The Response You Receive - Every Christian wants to be respected as a Christian and have his/her testimony be respected and responded too in a positive manner. The type of response that we can expect will always be determined by the kind of life others see us living! It has been said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying." In other words, the world will never believe what say until they can see what we believe!
Your reputation is important, because what people perceive you to be is usually a fair indicator of what you really are. Your reputation is what others think you are and character is what you really are. However, people can misread us and misunderstand us and cause us to be something less than we actually are. As a general rule, your reputation is a direct result of your character. In other words, men think the way they do about you because of the way they see you act and live before them.
I apologize for yet putting up one more picture of the Pope who passed away in the last week but lay aside all those who were obligated to mourn and you are left with hundreds of thousands of people who grieved for a man who represented love and peace and care for everyone. He was mourned by many not because he was the Catholic pope but because he came across as a leader that genuinely cared about others. Do you think he gossiped about other world leaders or told stories that ruined the reputations of others?
Your own reputation is valuable. Guard it with your very life. Pray that others will do the same. You cannot be responsible for what others do with your reputation, but you are responsible for what you do with theirs.
2. A Reputation can be Vandalized Publicly
A. It Is a Serious Thing - When we undermine the reputation of another by the words we speak, we are guilty of destroying that persons respectability and credibility before others. We are guilty of doing unspeakable damage to a person’s life and ministry by the words we say about them.