Proverbs 24:28

ESV Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
NIV Do not testify against your neighbor without cause-- would you use your lips to mislead?
NASB Do not be a witness against your neighbor for no reason, And do not deceive with your lips.
CSB Don't testify against your neighbor without cause. Don't deceive with your lips.
NLT Don’t testify against your neighbors without cause; don’t lie about them.
KJV Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.

What does Proverbs 24:28 mean?

This verse parallels the Bible's many commands about honesty (Proverbs 6:16, 19; 26:28; Psalm 34:13). Most such teachings, in fact, carry legal language which suggests things like formal witness testimony (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 19:5). Here, however, the advice does not immediately mention lying. Rather, it simply says not to speak against others "without cause." It's possible to find criticism of anyone, for those willing to look hard enough. There's a marked difference between speaking out about sin and wrongdoing, versus cutting others down out of spite or jealousy. The lesson here is broad, harmonizing with other verses regarding peace and unity (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18).

Although the Lord had commanded the Israelites to love their neighbor as themselves (Leviticus 19:18), they didn't always obey His command. Disputes between neighbors are inevitable; proverbs such as this help avoid strife. Leviticus 19:17 points out the right way to settle disputes involving a neighbor. This verse counsels: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him." Proverbs 12:20 declares that "deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil."

While the verse is primarily about speaking against others, it also mentions deception. Lying about others is never helpful. Also wrong is flattery (Proverbs 29:5; Psalm 12:2–3). Telling people what they want to hear, when it's not true—or purposefully exaggerated—is as much sin as is other lying (Proverbs 24:24–26).
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