Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
Reflection: Honoring The Truth
By John Tillman
A common theme taken up by many psalmists, including David’s pleas from today’s reading, is being slandered by one’s enemies.
The Scriptures, and Christ himself, see clearly that not every accusation is motivated by a desire for truth or justice. But in our culture, many have stooped to the level of conspiracy theorists when defending the leaders they love. Some communities have chosen to shame accusers, rather than listen to them and investigate. This is harmful to the cause of truth because it discourages anyone, anywhere from reporting anything.
Yesterday we examined a scripture telling us that those who withhold information about wrong-doing, bear part of the responsibility. If we, because of shaming and blaming victims who report abuse, suppress the truth from coming out, we also bear part of this blame.
How can we honor the call for testimony, while dealing with the reality of potential slander and false accusations? How can we give proper scrutiny to testimony without discouraging truth-tellers from coming forward? There are no easy answers. Here are three principles we can apply.
Be guided by reputation, but not blinded by it. While it is true that a good reputation is valuable (Proverbs 22.1, 1 Timothy 3.7) and can save someone from a false accusation, we cannot allow a good reputation to blind us to potential wrongdoing, prevent us from due diligence, or cause us to treat those bringing accusations in an unloving manner.
Follow the example of Jesus. Peter counseled persecuted church leaders to follow Christ’s example. Christ, “did not retaliate…made no threats,” and “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” With Christ’s example before us it is inexcusable for believers to allow accusers (even false accusers) to be threatened or to seek retaliation against them. We must pray for and pursue the truth and trust that even if earthly justice fails, God’s justice, provided through Christ, never will.
Remember that it could be true. Even though today’s psalm from David is the cry of an innocent man who was slandered, eventually there came a day when accusations against David were true. Nathan’s words, “you are the man” stand as a prophetic example for every Christian. We all need to be prepared to speak this way to well-loved leaders when needed.
Seeking the truth is not only a spiritual quest. It is sometimes a civic one. Or a legal one. As followers of Christ, the Truth, we should ask, seek, and knock, not giving up until the truth is revealed.
Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling… — Psalm 43.3
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Leviticus 6 (Listen – 4:17)
Psalm 5-6 (Listen – 2:45)
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Read more about You Are The Man — Embracing Prophetic Responsibility
Everyone challenges those they oppose to change. Followers of Christ are called to challenge the communities and individuals we are closest to.
Read more about In the Face of Mockery and Shame
We, as a culture, demand to shame others. We seem to think it is our right. The mob justice of destruction and vengeance through shame is the only system of justice our culture trusts.