Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 17. Witness

Proverbs 12:17
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?


Ed said...

Reminds me of Jim Carrey in "Liar, Liar".

He was the ultimate "false witness" telling lies about everything and ultimately hurting everyone around him.

When struck with the inability to tell a lie, the hijinks ensue, but there is a deeper message there. He began giving an honest testimony about everything, including to himself about his feelings for his family.

It's not always the lies we tell others that are most damaging. We need to be a truthful witness to ourselves. When we start there, the rest will follow.

TX grandma said...

I find a double meaning in this post. To me it is not about being a witness as in court but being a witness for Christ. (yes I know you probably meant that too.) Yes many times I don't speak up for Christ with truth. Sad but true for all of us I am sure. Thanks for making me think yet again about the double meanings of things.

Anonymous said...

I know this makes me think about how I like to omit the truth sometimes. I lie to myself and believe that keeps me from being dishonest but it does not, it makes me just as guilty as one telling lies.

Sylvia Goode Basham said...

Ouch, this has been a piece of junk (SCL "sin") for me in the past. I always thought I would make a great political word parser, but then that would make me a terrible truthful witness!

Milan Ford said...

awesome post jon

anotherlisa said...

"Have you ever stayed quiet because you thought that silence was more honest than involvement?"

being a parent sometimes means being silent & letting kids make mistakes. some lessons are most vividly learned when natural consequences are suffered, hopefully within a safety net of love & community.

but to proverbs call for truth, i am guilty of being quiet rather than face the wrath of someone confronted with their sin. "how dare you judge me?" is never a fun thing to hear.
i like your bullets of our "not lying" for convenience, for comfort, and for false safety.
thanks, jon

Maggie said...

In our discipling group the question came up, 'how do we try to save our lives rather than lose it for Christ?'. A great answer from my friend Suzy was, when I am silent during a conversation that's going on around me, instead of speaking up. That's when I'm saving my life. Really goes with this great difference between not telling a lie and telling the honest truth. Good post!

Anonymous said...

Had friend who was headed for a disaster if he married a certain person. I said nothing. They married, had immediate problems. They divorced less than 18 months after getting married. I valued being silent and liked over being honest and snubbed.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever stayed quiet because you thought that silence was more honest than involvement?

Uh ... yeah. Most of my life. But today is a new day! : )

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