by: FCC Staff
“The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.” Proverbs 29:24
“I plead the fifth your honor!” This phrase is a staple for just about all crime/law and order themed television series. The use of the phrase ‘The Fifth’ refers to a portion of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution dealing with due process. It is something that is built into our system of law and order as a way of protecting people from self-incrimination. Basically, what is being communicated when ‘pleading the fifth’ is that a person has information on a certain matter but is unwilling to give that information.
Our proverb today refers to a related situation. It refers to a person who becomes a partner to a wrongdoer by virtue of knowing about the wrong deed but saying nothing when given the opportunity. It is another way of restating a portion of the Law found in Leviticus: “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity” (5:1). In more simple terms, the one who doesn’t speak up about something he has seen or has knowledge of is guilty alongside the wrongdoer.
Back to the Proverb. What’s the issue with a person withholding information about a crime he is an accomplice of? It’s a justice issue. There has been an unjust act committed against God and against another person in society. The knowledge of his wrongdoing, as the Proverb points out, also causes the man to view himself as an unjust person. Every type of relationship in this man’s life is broken – his relationship with his Creator, his relationship with his community and his own self-worth. Not at all the picture we get when we think of God creating man in His own image.
After God rescued His people from Egypt, He immediately began ‘retraining’ them on how they should properly live with Him and with each other. He went into great detail with them, covering everything from sacrifices, feasts, Sabbath rest, personal property rights, and even personal injury rights. The great detail which God provided is evidence that man’s relationship with Him and man’s relationship with those around him are of utmost importance. All of those rules God gave the Israelites to govern their community were not an end in and of themselves; they were guiding principles leading them onwards and upwards towards the pinnacle of every relationship – love. This is most completely witnessed in the life of Jesus.
This Proverb probably doesn’t apply to us today, right? I mean we are all God honoring, law abiding citizens who don’t deliberately commit unjust acts against God or society. We haven’t withheld knowledge or witnessed something that we are withholding that would otherwise be in the best interest of society. Or have we?
If it was for the sake of right relationships that God gave the Israelites detailed rules to live by, and if those rules were perfected and replaced by love through the life and death of Jesus, then Jesus has become the source of right relationship with God and with others.
Believers in Jesus have knowledge about, are witnesses of, and have information that is in the best interest of society. To withhold that information is to betray the command of Christ in Acts 1:8, that His followers should bear witness to Him in this world.
Is destroying relationships with God and others by stealing and covering up that crime the same as not sharing the Good News about Christ with people? Probably not. But both have serious consequences for humanity.
Prayer For Today God, thank you for loving us and creating community for us. Give me the courage to be a good and loving member of my community in all things physical and spiritual. Help me to share what I have witnessed with You to those around me.