I'm back in the memorization saddle after quite a bit of time slacking this spring, and a few days ago I worked on Ephesians 4:25. I've always read this verse in a really limited, simplistic sense: "don't lie; tell the truth." But it struck me as I memorized it that it's much more than that.
What is the falsehood that we have put away? The lie of autonomous, self-sufficient existence, the lie that we can be wise apart from God--the lies of Eden. As Paul described just a few verses earlier, the futile, darkened understanding of those who do not know the Lord and are alienated from Him.
We are to speak the truth with our neighbors--and Paul has just told us in verse 21 that "the truth is in Jesus"! This is so much richer than merely, "don't tell your neighbor a lie." It's "preach the gospel to your neighbor--speak of Christ to your neighbor!" And in saying this I don't just mean "evangelize the person who lives next door"; rather, I mean, everyone is your neighbor, and the Christians in your life still need to hear the gospel!
All this dovetails quite nicely with what we've talking about in my class: the idea that everyone is a counselor, whether intentionally or not. People are naturally interpreters, meaning-makers: we are constantly trying to make sense of life, trying to explain what is going on around us. As Dr. Tripp explains in Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands:
“When we say that God designed human beings to be interpreters, we are getting to the heart of why human beings do what they do. Our thinking conditions our emotions, our sense of identity, our view of others, our agenda of the solution of our problems, and our willingness to receive counsel from others. That is why we need a framework for generating valid interpretations that help us respond to life appropriately. Only the words of the Creator can give us that framework.”
We interpret life--and then in the things we say to each other, we counsel each other to adopt our interpretation, to see and understand life the way we do. So as I saw it with fresh eyes, this verse exhorts us not to put forth false, idolatrous interpretations of life. Instead, help your neighbor see her heart, her circumstances, in view of God, from an eternal perspective. Bring the gospel to shed light on the topic--speak the truth of the person and work of Jesus!
And when you do so, you minister also to yourself; you preach the gospel to yourself, reminding yourself of those truths which you so easily forget and need to hear.
May God make us quick to reject subtle patterns of false thinking and instead speak the truth of Christ with those around us today!