What Truth Are We Supposed to Speak?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
If you've been reading these reflections for a while, you may remember that a couple of months ago I was examining Ephesians 4:16, which says that we are to "speak the truth in love." In that examination, I asked: What truth are we supposed to speak? Today, I want to ask this question again, both because it is suggested by our passage, and also because it is a question that leads to a surprising answer that you and I need to understand and put into practice.
When we see that we are to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to our neighbor, our minds tend to think of awkward moments. We might envision an annual review where we have to say hard things to an employee. Or we might think about a time when one of our unathletic children said, "Dad, how'd I do in the game?" We think of speaking the truth as having to say hard things to people. We wonder if we're really supposed to do this.
Situations such as these are worthy of consideration. But, when Paul says we're to put off falsehood and speak the truth, he is not focusing on times when the truth is potentially hurtful information about another person. Rather, Ephesians 4:25 is mostly about putting off falsehood about God and speaking the truth about Jesus Christ and the implications of the gospel. Remember that Paul was writing to former pagans, most of whom once embraced falsehood. Now that they are in Christ, it's time to put that away. Instead, they are to speak about the truth that is in Jesus, the truth of God's love and grace, the truth of God's justice and peace.
Notice that Ephesians 4:25 says that "each of you" should put off falsehood and speak the truth. "Each of you" means "each and every one of you." Speaking the truth of God is not just something the pastors do or that church leaders do or that theologians do. Rather, every single Christian should be equipped and ready to speak the truth about God when the opportunity to do so presents itself. We're not just talking about evangelism here. In fact, the focus of our verse is on speaking the truth to our fellow believers. You and I, no matter our role in the church, are called to communicate God's truth to each other.
Sometimes such communication takes the form of basic encouragement. I can think of times in my life when a brother or sister in Christ brought just the word of truth I needed. Sitting in a coffee shop with a member of my church in Irvine, I shared my discouragement. He listened well, and I felt both heard and loved. But then he said in simple words, "Remember, Mark, God is at work here. This is God's church. He will take care of it. And he loves you. Don't forget that." Did I know this truth already? In a sense, yes, of course. But, at that moment, I needed to hear the truth from this brother. I needed to be reminded of what I knew in my head but doubted in my heart. He helped me to put off the falsehood that had invaded my soul even as he spoke the truth to me.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you speaking the truth of the gospel to others? When was the last time you encouraged someone in your church family? When was the last time you helped someone understand God's grace more deeply? Are there people to whom God has sent you as a messenger of his truth and love?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of speaking the truth, your truth, to others. Thank you for entrusting all of your people—each of us—with the good news. Thank you for allowing us, indeed, for calling us, to share your truth with our brothers and sisters, as well as with those who don't know you. Help me, dear Lord, to be a faithful conduit of your truth, not just when I'm "on the job," but whenever I have the opportunity.
Thank you, Lord, for those who have spoken the truth to me. Yes, thank you for my Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, and pastors. But thank you also for the brothers and sisters who have shared your truth with me. Thank you for the brother who touched my soul that day when I was so discouraged. Thank you for the folk who receive the Daily Reflections and write me to share their insights. Thank you for all the ways you teach, encourage, admonish, and edify me. Amen.
Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast.
Creating Beauty at Work
Are you feeling a little lackluster about your work environment? Then our series Creating Beauty at Work is for you. While brightly painted walls or sleek, modern furniture might lighten our mood and inspire creativity, investing in the people we work with, helping them to bring the best of who they are and caring about them even when they can’t, is at the heart of a beautiful workplace. Before you buy a new framed print for the wall, try complimenting your cubicle mate or saying thank you to the janitor. Or if you or someone you know needs encouragement along these lines, then start a conversation with a coworker or friend by joining us on The High Calling.
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