Most of the laws in the first five books of the Bible (The Pentateuch) serve as case studies to provide a foundation for Israel’s legal system.
Today’s passage describes the case of a guy who marries a woman and then decides he doesn’t like her (buyer’s remorse, so to speak). So, he fabricates a story in order to divorce her. When his slander (lie) is found out, he has to pay a fee to his bride’s father and then he can’t ever divorce this woman. The reason this man is punished is because he “slandered her” and “gave her a bad name.”
A reputation is the image we hold of a person or organization. Once someone has marred that image, it’s very difficult to restore. Our words have the incredible capacity to build someone’s reputation favorably or tear it down. Sometimes it’s not even the words we say, but the tone and body language with which we say them.
Each person has been created in God’s image. When we communicate anything less than respect and honor of that image, we dishonor God. In fact, God calls us to honor and build the reputation of those around us, especially those who can’t defend themselves.
Today, take a moment to identify ways you can undermine someone’s reputation. Make a short list of ways you can mar the image someone may have of another person or organization. Then, consider whether you’ve participated in lowering another person’s reputation. Begin today representing God well by speaking words that build others up.