Sunday, 12 October 2008 00:00

Apples of Gold: Truthful Speech

Ephesians 4:14-15; 24-25 (ESV)

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each on of you speak the truth with his nighbor, for we are members one of another.

When it came to the choice of telling the truth or a lie, Mark Twain once quipped: "When in doubt, tell the truth. It will always confound your enemies and astound your friends." Telling the truth is a pattern of speech that characterizes the people who believe in Christ. There are two texts in Ephesians 4 that describe the importance of "truth" telling.

  1. The first "truth" is a reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Have you seen "Preacher Bob" at OSU? Have you seen members of Westboro Baptist Church? Our text should put any doubt out of your mind whether or not they are from God.
    1. As Christians, how we speak is as important as what we speak.
      When the disciples rejected the ministry of another follower of Jesus because he was "not one of us," the Master rebuked their cliquish attitude (Luke 9:49-50).
    2. Giving freedom to dissent is a sure sign of standing on the truth.
      Truth is like a lion and simply needs to be loosed, not defended. The more we try to control the presentation of "the lion of truth" by caging our personal system of beliefs and appointing guardians with instructions to protect her by squelching dissent, the more we need to realize that we reveal a lack of confidence in truth.
    3. When others hurt us with their words, it is our duty not to respond in kind.
      Peter urges us to follow Jesus "who, although reviled, did not revile in return and although made to suffer, did not respond with threats" (I Peter 2:21-23).
      "I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
  2. The second "truth" is a reference to communicating honestly with others.
    The book The Day Americans Told the Truth says that 91 percent of those surveyed lie routinely about matters they believe trivial, and 36 percent lie about important things. Some sociologists say the average person lies about 50 times a day, some say more.
    1. A believer is converted from lying speech"Therefore, having put away lying."
      "There are (seven) things which the Lord hates... a lying tongue" (Proverbs 6:16). "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 12:22). The new self, created after the likeness of God (Ephesians 5:24), is the inner desire to speak the truth to other people.
    2. A believer should form a community built on honest speech"for we are members."
      In The Different Drum, Scott Peck points out God designed us to yearn for open, honest, authentic relationships—he calls them "Communal Relationships." But because we choose peace-keeping over truth-telling, we end in marriages, families and friendships that are strictly surface level. No one ever says anything "unsafe." The underlying commitment is "Don't rock the boat. Don't disturb the peace."
    3. A believer must understand lying always reveals a flesh pattern.
      We lie to impress people. We lie to please people. We lie to please ourselves. We lie to get revenge. We lie to escape punishment. We simply lie for convenience. I am afraid of the truth for it reveals my inability, my loneliness, my helplessness.

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