Proverbs 24:28-29 (NLT)
Don’t testify against your neighbors without cause; don’t lie about them. And don’t say, “Now I can pay them back for what they’ve done to me! I’ll get even with them!”
Reality Television thrives on it. Dr. Phil makes a ton of money talking about it. Movies pull us in by dramatizing it. Popular songs tug on our heartstrings with it, capitalize on our painful memories with it, and pump up our emotions with it. It seems that humans are pre-wired to try and play Judge, Jury, and Executioner…but because of our sin, most of the time we get it wrong.
In the disturbing book, The Day America Told the Truth (1991 by Peter Kim & James Patterson), a massive nationwide survey revealed that 90% of Americans lie regularly and that 7% of us would kill a stranger for $10 million dollars. If you are a student of the Bible at any level you should not be surprised by any of this. The “works of the flesh” are many and disturbing (Gal. 5:19-21) and can plague Christians of all ages and maturity levels…which is why today’s passage is so important.
Don’t testify against your neighbor without cause…and by neighbor, Solomon means anyone you come into contact with. Without cause means don’t get involved unless you absolutely have to! Don’t stir up trouble! Don’t be a busy body gossip inserting yourself into other people’s affairs (1 Tim. 5:13). And don’t fool yourself – your ability to judge righteously is seriously hampered by your sin nature, even as a Christian. The temptation to “right a wrong” by your own efforts can be strong, but we must be sober-minded about our inability to see clearly (1 Cor. 13:12).
When it comes to lying and/or seeking revenge or retribution, we are always wrong to do so. The Lord hates lying lips, and that should be enough exhortation for any of us. Additionally, the Lord is the only one capable of rightly judging not only a person’s heart, but also their motives, and because of that, vengeance is His and His alone. That does not mean that we don’t seek justice in the world – as followers of Christ we should be the ultimate Justice League on earth – but “paying people back” and making sure they “get what they deserve” is always contrary to God’s will for us.