Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:25-28)

Our Triune God is a God of truth: God the Father speaks truth (Isa.45:19); God the Son declared Himself to be Truth (John 14:6); God the Holy Spirit is described as “The Spirit of truth” (John 16:13).  Therefore, His children bear His likeness is speaking the truth.

Deception is of the Devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).  Those who belong to him are marked by an habitual nature of lying, and the end is judgment in the Lake of Fire (Rev.21:8).

It isn’t that a believer is incapable of lying, or else Paul would not warn us about it, “putting away lying” (Eph.4:25a).  The one who is regenerate might lapse into telling a lie, but he or she will not have a lifestyle dominated by lies.

Yet, it is not enough in the church to exclude deceptive talk, we must embrace honest speech, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph.4:25b).  Words that are faithful and true build connection, “for we are members of one another.” (Eph.4:25c)  A person’s commitment can be counted on because they are people of integrity.  We do not lie to others because we do not want them to lie to us.

Honest speech is helpful and hopeful, therefore, it is not ultimately harmful.  That doesn’t mean it is always painless.  Truth may demand reproof and rebuke, but then adds a word of encouragement and instruction (2 Tim.4:2).  Think of it as a surgeon’s scalpel that hurts in order to heal.  Confronting error and sin with truth, however, is not for condemnation, but compassion.  It doesn’t drive people down in despair over their failure, but lifts them up with hope for their future.  We have a responsibility to help make the body healthy because we are members of that body—each of us affecting the others.

Connection can be disrupted by deception and disloyalty, and a congregation can also be divided by angry words.  There will be times that anger rises as an emotion—the response of righteousness to injustice.  That, in and of itself, is not wrong.  God becomes righteously indignant toward evil and its horrible cost.  Anger can move us to promote that which is good and stand against what it wrong.  The problem is that if anger is not expressed in a righteous way, it is such a powerful emotion that it becomes a corrosive force poured out on another in a sinful way. “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph.4:26a). Sadly, that is typically how anger is unleashed in the church, as people bite and devour one another.

You cannot just hold anger inside, and let it become bitterness either—for then it eats away at you, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph.4:26b).  It can become like a volcano, with pressure building and building, until one day we explode with destructive force.  That’s why we find the source of anger and ask God for grace to overcome.  We do it right away—and do not let the sunset with it smoldering within.  If we need to meet with someone, and settle the matter, we do it as soon as possible, to speak with honesty and yet not brutality—the object being reconciliation.  If that doesn’t work, then there is a process of the involvement of other godly people in mediation, and that failing, the church as a whole calls for reconciliation (Matt.18:15-19).  If that strong medicine doesn’t cure the issue, then the member may have to be excluded as a diseased member of the Body which can kill that local church.  Even so, the discipline is in hope that it brings repentance that leads to reconciliation.

Some people are like a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, ready to blow up at the slightest spark of provocation.  They walk around with a chip on their shoulder, daring someone to knock it off.  We are warned, “nor give place to the devil.(Eph.4:27).  When this is permitted in the congregation, it is like going to the front door of the church, and inviting the Devil to come in and destroy the church!

Speaking the truth in love is our goal—and when we do, we give a treasure that enriches another spiritually.  “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Eph.4:28). When we speak in slander or in rage, we rob others of their reputation and their joy.  The former strengthens our connection with other Christians, while the latter severs it. 

You have a choice about what you say and how you say it, and your words will make a difference.

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