Thursday, June 27, 2013

Speak the Truth

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ..." (4:15)

"Speaking the truth in love." That's Christian-ese for "saying something unpleasant that the other person doesn't want to hear, but needs to hear"--right?

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:25).

And that one pretty much just means "don't lie," doesn't it?

I think we can get a fuller, more meaningful picture of both concepts by noticing a little phrase in verse 21 that falls right in between these two exhortations: "...the truth is in Jesus..." 

HOW are we to speak the truth? In love.
With WHOM are we to speak the truth? Our neighbors.
WHERE is the truth? WHAT is the truth? WHO is truth? Jesus.

Paul speaks of "having put away falsehood." I think he's talking about something a lot bigger than "stop telling white lies." The bigger picture is the futile, darkened understanding of those who do not know the Lord and are alienated from Him, which Paul described just a few verses earlier. We must put away the falsehood of autonomous, self-sufficient existence, the lie that we can be wise apart from God--the lies of Eden. We have to put away the enemy's lies about who God is--that He isn't in control, that He doesn't really love us, that He isn't good, isn't wise.

We are to constantly be speaking the truth in love among our brothers and sisters; we are to speak the truth with our neighbors--and the truth is in Jesus! This is so much richer than "don't be afraid to say hard things to your friend"; it's so much more than merely, "don't tell your neighbor a lie." It's "love others enough to speak to them about who Christ is and what He has done and how that matters for their lives, their struggles." And 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!

People are naturally meaning-makers: we are constantly trying to make sense of life, trying to explain what is going on around us. We interpret reality--and then in the things we say to each other, we (intentionally or not) counsel each other to adopt our interpretation, to see and understand life the way we do. As Paul 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.”
This passage of Ephesians exhorts us not to put forth false, idolatrous interpretations of life. Instead, lovingly help your neighbor see her heart and 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, 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!

[edited repost from the archives]

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