“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
We all know the difference between telling the truth and lying. This commandment as it is written has to do with how we speak of other people. When we are called to give testimony in court, we are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This is the most applicable way to treat this commandment.
In the devotion Do Not Murder it is discussed how our words can kill people. This can be done through lying and obviously should not happen.
How do we treat “little white lies”? We are called to speak the truth but in love. This means that we shouldn’t lie when our spouse asks if something makes them look fat. But neither should we say “It’s not the outfit that makes you look fat, it’s your waistline.” This may be the truth but obviously shouldn’t be said to protect someone’s feelings.
Perception is important when speaking. A truth can be misperceived and a lie can be perceived as correct. The statement “liars go to hell” is correct but the audience must be considered. Do the hearers know that you mean liars who haven’t been forgiven of their sins or will they mistakenly think that they are doomed because they have told a lie in their lifetime?
Or we can speak a technical truth with the intention to mislead. “I wasn’t at the park” may be true if referring to this morning but if the conversation is about yesterday it is misleading. What is unsaid can be as much of a lie as what is said.