“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.” Exodus 23:1-3
The first several verses of Exodus chapter twenty-three address the just and fair treatment of others. In this section God addresses the reality that all of us have biases and he makes it very clear that we’re to govern our behavior and actions by what’s true and righteous and not according to any bias we may have.
One area where bias might present itself is in judgment. The goal of any judge is to ascertain what is true so that any judgment made will be according to the truth and not on the basis of a partial or false report. But people sometimes lie and when it comes to lying Exodus chapter twenty three gives us five common reasons for perverting justice by lying: an inclination to follow the majority, a bias for or against the poor, a bias for or against the rich, the person or persons involved may be our enemies, or the people involved are strangers.
God makes it very clear that when it comes to truth and lies he always stands with the truth. Even when it comes to standing alone against a crowd; stand for the truth. Even if it means going against your preference and standing with a person who is rich and powerful, or poor and the underdog; stand with the truth. Even if you’re required to stand shoulder to shoulder with your enemy; stand with the truth. Even if you have to side with a stranger against people you know; stand with the truth.
Not all justice is about courts and judgment. Two of the examples given address real world situations outside the courtroom. The first is about you encountering an enemy’s livestock wandering loose away from home. The second is about you coming upon someone you despise having problems with his donkey. Both of these situations would have been common for much of the history of the world and if we think about it we can find modern day equivalents in our own lives.
God’s direction in regards to both of these scenarios is that we will do the helpful thing, the kind and loving thing. We will do the same as we would do for a friend. We will do what we might wish for another to do for us were we in the same situation.
As you can see, God’s view of what it means to be just and righteous in our treatment of others embraces more than if we’re technically telling the truth or not. Is what we’re doing and saying supporting the truth or a lie? God’s view also extends beyond the courtroom, or judgment seat, into our day to day treatment others. Do we treat everyone according to the same standard or are some people favored and others marginalized?
God’s made it clear where he stands. Are you standing with God?