These are the things that you must do: speak truth, each of you, with his neighbor; practice trustworthy judgment and peace in your gates. Do not devise evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and do not love a false oath, because all these are things I hate,” declares Yahweh.” (Zechariah 8:16–17, LEB)

In this passage the Lord declares to his people how they should live.  He gives them things that they should do and things that they should not do.  In this way the people come to understand what pleases the Lord and what displeases him.  This is kindness.  Our God is not capricious, leaving it to humans to figure out what they should and should not do, what makes him happy and what makes him angry.  No, God tells them how he wants them to act.

  • What they should do:
    1. Speak truth.  There is no placing for lying or deceit with God, in regards to our neighbors or anyone else with whom we interact.
    2. Practice trustworthy judgement. The city gates were the place where civil decisions were made, where justice was carried out, where affairs of the city were accomplished.  God is calling for those decisions and practices to be just, fair, and good.
  • What they should not do:
    1. Do not devise evil in your heart against your neighbor.  God’s people are to be fundamentally different from the normal human approach to neighbors.  If we do not like them, we seek to subvert them.  God calls us to not treat them in an evil manner.
    2. Do not love a false oath.  This is the flip side of speaking truth.  Positively, God’s people are to speak truth, negatively, they were not to give or allow false oaths in regards to justice.  This was wrong.

God is kind and merciful and does not leave us to figure out his character on our own through trial and error.  He tells us his standards so that we may keep them.