July 25, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 4:25 (NRSV)
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.
Sometimes it seems like truthfulness has disappeared from our common life. Therefore, now more than ever we need to pay attention to Ephesians 4:25, which says, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.” If we are to live as redeemed and renewed people in Christ, we must learn to speak and live the truth.
Sometimes it seems like truthfulness has disappeared from our common life. We’re pretty much used to the fact that politicians will bend the truth to suit their aims. And, yes, I know I’m being generous with the verb “bend.” But even trusted news sources are regularly found to have mispresented the truth. Historians are frequently outed for making things up as they go along. And even people we should be able to trust, like pastors and other religious leaders, for example, are revealed to be far less than honest.
Social media doesn’t help much, of course, though it sometimes accurately points out the lies told by others. But even with newer efforts to eliminate outright falsehood, you still have to take everything you read on social media with a grain of salt . . . or at least you should.
Perhaps you think I’m being unduly negative. I wish I were. But I do find myself having a harder time these days trusting people and sources I wish I had more confidence in. And I don’t think I’m just getting cranky as I age.
Given the disappearance of truthfulness in our world today, I believe we are in desperate need of God’s help. And we get that help from many places in Scripture, including Ephesians 4:25. This verse reads, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”
In the next few days, I’d like to examine this verse carefully, discovering what we learn about truthfulness and how we can be people of the truth. Before I get to verse 25, however, let me say a little about the context. In the verses immediately prior to this one we find a description of what is involved when we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior: “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” The main point of this passage is that we were taught to take off our old self like a rotten old garment, to be renewed on the inside, and to put on our new self as if it were a brand new set of clothes.
Beginning with verse 25, Ephesians supplies a series of specific applications of the general “take off and put on” principle. The first of these has to do with the matter of truth and falsehood: “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.” The phrase “putting away falsehood” uses the Greek verb that appears in verse 22: “You were taught . . . to put away your former way of life.” Clearly, verse 25 provides a specific example of the general “putting off/away ” command. One way we take off the old self is by taking off falsehood.
But taking off our former way of life isn’t the main point. Christianity isn’t just a matter of the “don’ts.” It is also and profoundly a matter of “the dos.” So, in verse 25, after saying we are to take off falsehood, Paul adds that we should “speak the truth to our neighbors.” We are to take off falsehood as one piece of our decaying old self and put on truth-speaking as a piece of our new self in Christ.
The priority of truth-speaking in this passage shows that truthfulness isn’t an insignificant garment of the Christian life—like one of your socks, important but mostly functional and unnoticed. Rather, truth is like a new shirt—essential and obvious to all. So if you’re going to take off the old self and put on the new, you might well begin by looking at the truth quotient of your speech.
Have you put off falsehood?
Have you put on truth-speaking?
When people think of you, do they associate you with truthfulness?
What helps you to speak the truth?
What makes it hard for you to speak the truth?
As you go about your day, pay attention to the truthfulness of your speech and actions. Are you putting off falsehood and putting on the truth?
Gracious God, help me to put off falsehood and to put on truthfulness. When I’m tempted to lie, even if it seems inconsequential, help me to see clearly what I’m doing so that I might “take it off.”
But, dear Lord, my life in you isn’t just a matter of avoiding falsehood. It’s also and mainly a matter of truthfulness, of knowing, believing, speaking, and doing the truth. Help me, I pray, to be a person full of truth in all that I am, all that I say, and all that I do. Amen.
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Why Truthtelling Is Important
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.