Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 10:1-23; John 14:1-17
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. (Small Catechism: Eighth Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Reputation, a good name, is a good gift from God. It’s a gift that flows out of the First Article, that God is “maker of heaven and earth.” It’s a Fourth Petition gift, part of “daily bread” that God “certainly gives to everyone…even to all evil people.” The Eighth Commandment also addresses this good gift of God—your neighbor’s and NOT yours.
God didn’t give the Eighth Commandment for your benefit. That’s not how the gift of reputation works with Him. The Eighth Commandment shows us that we are baptized to guard, protect, preserve, and improve our neighbor’s reputation. We’re baptized to be a gift to our neighbor, to be a gift to his or her reputation. That’s why you were baptized—so you’d no longer live for yourself, but the Spirit would use you to live for others.
Now you don’t tell lies (or TRUTH!) about your neighbor that’ll hurt him, you don’t betray your friends, you don’t slander your enemies. You have no enemies! Not in Jesus you don’t. You are in Jesus, baptized into Him. You “explain everything in the kindest way.” Through the power of Jesus’ resurrection given in Holy Baptism, you cover all that your neighbor says and does with Jesus’ forgiveness, mercy, and love. You’re at peace, you’re patient, you’re kind, gentle, faithful to your neighbor. This “fruit of the Spirit” is worked in you through your Baptism.
Jesus was slandered, betrayed, gossiped about for our doing those very things to those around us. He bore those sins—your sins—in His body on the tree. He washes them off you in Baptism, and there He enlivens you with His resurrection and the Holy Spirit, too. Because of all that, your reputation with God is spotless, pure, and holy. He turns you away from you and sets you free to worry about your neighbor’s reputation, not only to defend it but to cover your neighbor’s words and actions with the blood of Jesus, just like your own reputation and standing with God have been covered. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
“Bear no false witness nor defame Your neighbor nor destroy his name, But view him in the kindest way; Speak truth in all that you say.” Have mercy, Lord! (These are the Holy Ten Commands, LSB 581:9)