A False Witness Gets His Reward
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
The Bible repeatedly commands us to tell the truth:
“Put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Lying brings serious consequences, sometimes privately, sometimes publicly, and sometimes both. As the Bible affirms:
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.” (Proverbs 19:5)
A recent high-profile drama illustrating this Biblical truth revolved around Jussie Smollett, the supporting actor in the FOX show Empire. He filed a hate-crime report with police, claiming that two white men physically assaulted and beat him, wrapping a noose around his neck and dousing him with an unknown chemical while shouting, “This is MAGA country!” (MAGA is the Trump campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.”)
But an intensive and lengthy police investigation revealed that Smollett had staged the attack by paying two Nigerian men (one of whom worked as his personal trainer) to perform the assault. The police arrested Smollett and the grand jury charged him with sixteen felony counts.
As the Chicago police chief explained:
The accusations within this phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebrities, news commentators and, even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor….Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process. And, why? This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary, so he concocted a story about being attacked.
Smollett paid his bond of $10,000 and prepared to face the charges in court—only he never went to court. In a shocking, and roundly condemned decision, the city prosecutors decided to drop all the charges on the condition that he forfeit his bond payment.
Many people, including the police chief and mayor, were rightly outraged at this blatant breach of justice. It certainly seemed as if this false witness would go unpunished. But that was not the end of the story. When the facts of the case became known to the public, the ratings for his show Empire plummeted and it was cancelled. Smollett lost both his reputation and credibility.
Such stories are an ever-present reminder to speak the truth, for no false witness will ultimately go unpunished, even if it initially sometimes appears to be the case. God’s justice is eternal, and it will eventually cause lying to be punished, thus affirming the wisdom of God’s command that:
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace. (Zechariah 8:16)
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