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The Eighth Commandment

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The Eighth Commandment

Post by PastorDan on Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:51 pm

The Eighth Commandment
You’ll 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.


The Eighth Commandment is a natural follow-up to the Seventh. Social media is teaching us far more about the nature of one’s reputation than any of us likely anticipated. Today, the idea of managing one’s image like a personal brand is pervasive. When Yelp reviews make or break a restaurant, you know that the influence of image has become powerful indeed.


Well before these social media perils, God laid out the standard that we are not to testify falsely against others. Luther unpacks this to include betrayal, slander, and damaging one’s reputation. He further turns to the positive, instructing us to defend and speak well of others. Luther points out that God is calling us to “explain everything in the kindest way.”


Kids are naturals at tearing one another down. It amazes me how my oldest is able to turn just about any phrase into something that sounds like an insult. Often the insulter does this in order to feel better than the insulted and thus feel better generally. However, our experience as adults tells us that this never lasts. The result is a negative cycle that simply brings both parties further down as the insults continue to fly back and forth.


Once again, helping our children to empathize with others often requires us to help them see and truly feel the damage as it is done to them. Teaching our children to stop before they react is essential. Teaching them to pause before tearing someone else down for a perceived slight can often help avoid unnecessary escalation or even misunderstanding. As our children grow and mature, their desire for relationships grows with them. Their desire to be seen in a certain way can be used to build upon prior lessons of how their own harsh words or those of others can damage reputation and friendships. Helping our children learn to think before they speak (or post something online) is essential.


Many teens love gossip. Hearing the latest dirt on their classmates helps distract from their own issues. Talk to your teens about how they feel when they learn that they are the subject of gossip. Do not let them get away with bluffing their way through this conversation. If the response is that they do not care, push harder. Teens are naturally concerned about what others think of them - obsessively so at times. How might they want to have their friends think and talk about them? Gossip has the tendency to feed upon itself. One story about one person soon becomes many more about many others. There is perhaps an element of addiction to the hearing and sharing of gossip. Like a temporary high, teens seek more gossip to feel good about themselves repeatedly.


Rather than feed this cycle, challenge teens to focus on building one another up just as they would like to be built up in the eyes of their peers. Talk specifically about what they can do to uplift rather than tear down. Make a “No J/K rule”. (J/K = just kidding, usually a lame excuse given as a defense against a teasing or hurtful comment). Help teens realize that the good feeling they get from tearing someone down is short lived, especially when compared with the deep bonds of friendship available to those who focus on building one another up in the eyes of their peers.


Lastly, check out this short clip from the movie Doubt

Maybe watch this clip with your child. You might even consider previewing the entire movie and, if you feel it is appropriate, watch it with your child.


And remember the suggested object lesson I wrote at the end of the Seventh Commandment paper.
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PastorDan
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