A young man is confronted by an older man for stealing. The older man brings his charges against the younger man and lets everyone know that he has been wronged and his property stolen. The older man goes on social media and disparages the character of the younger man. Finally, the younger man asks for charges to be brought against him as he protests his innocence. The older man reluctantly brings charges because he is encouraged by the community to stand behind his allegations. After a review of the evidence, the younger man was found to be innocent of the charges.
Before throwing out the case, the presiding judge told the older man he was to be punished for bearing false witness. However, he said he needed a night to think on the matter. He instructed the older man to write down all of the inaccurate things he said and wrote about the younger man. Then he said on your way home please tear them up and scatter them along the path to your house.
The next day the younger man was in court and the judge told him he would go unpunished if he could do one thing. The older man excitedly agreed. The judge instructed him to pick up all of the pieces of the paper he had scattered the night before and bring them to the judge. If he could do this, then all would be forgiven.
We are too often dismissive of the effect false witness has on others. Once we speak falsely, we have no control over where that information is going to travel and in what condition it will be when it arrives in the ears of others. In the age of social media this is only amplified. We are instructed "You shall not give a false report; you shall not join hands with the wicked to be a malicious witness [promoting wrong and violence]." Exodus 23:11
As men of God, we need to be vigilant about our words and the manner in which we use them. Even more so, we need to make sure we are not spreading hearsay. When we come across information about others, we need to ask ourselves if we should even be engaging in the conversation. Conversations about others are often not gratifying and that which is not gratifying is not pleasing to the Lord.
"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."