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Exodus 23:1-19

In addition to his moral law in the Ten Commandments, God gives his people other laws to help them build a functioning and just society.

Words to Live By


“You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.

“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.

“If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.”
(Exodus 23:1-5)


Making up or spreading rumors was strictly forbidden by God. Gossip, slander, and false witnessing undermined families, strained neighborhood cooperation, and made chaos of the justice system. Destructive gossip still causes problems. Even if you do not initiate a lie, you become responsible if you knowingly pass it along. Don’t circulate rumors; squelch them.

Justice is often perverted in favor of the rich. Here the people are warned against twisting justice in favor of the poor. Justice should be impartial, treating rich and poor alike. Giving special privileges to either rich or poor only makes justice for everyone more unlikely. Withstand the pressure of the crowd to sway your decision about a person. Let the fairness God shows to every person guide your judgment.

Being kind to enemies was a new and startling idea in a world where revenge was the common form of justice. God not only introduced this idea to the Israelites, he commanded it! If a man found a lost animal owned by his enemy, he was to return it at once. Jesus clearly taught us to reach out to all people in need, even our enemies (Luke 10:30-37). Living according to God’s laws is hard enough with friends. When we apply God’s laws of kindness to our enemies, we demonstrate the mercy of God to the world.


Who do you consider to be in the category of “enemy”? Ask God to help soften your heart toward that person, and look for ways to do good for him or her. Sometimes the feeling of compassion may come after helping them.

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