A truthful witness gives honest testimony,
but a false witness tells lies.
At first glance this verse seems like the simplest verse in all of Proverbs 12. Tell the truth. Don’t lie. It’s hard to extract some hidden gem of insight from something so straight forward. But when I spent some time with it, I noticed that it’s not written the way I want to read it. I want to read this verse as “A truthful witness does not lie” or even better, “A truthful witness stays out of situations that don’t involve them.” But that’s not what it says. In fact, I think there is a world of difference between not lying and telling the truth.
A truthful witness gives honest testimony.
We don’t get the convenience of silence.
We don’t get the comfort of inaction.
We don’t get the false safety of minding our own business.
We are called to give honest testimony.
We have a responsibility. There is an action we are called to. We must give honest testimony. You don’t get to stay quiet. Sometimes you won’t get to “stay out of it.” As an honest witness you’ll be called to give honest testimony. Which is different from not lying. A lot different.
If you want to “not lie” you can do that hiding under your bed, avoiding the messiness and tangled nature of most real relationships. But if you want to be a truthful witness. If you want to live the truth, you can’t stay home or ostrich in the sand the things you witness away. You have to give honest testimony.
Have you ever stayed quiet because you thought that silence was more honest than involvement?