March 19, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
There are lots of excellent reasons to speak the truth. For starters, I might tell the truth because my parents told me to do so hundreds of times. Or, I could say that the Ten Commandments tell us not to lie (Exodus 20:16). Then, we have Ephesians 4:25. This verse says we should “speak truthfully.” A more literal translation would be “speak the truth.” Simple obedience to God’s Word requires truthfulness.
A case for truth speaking might also point to the results of honesty versus the implications of lying. Truthfulness builds trust. Lying fosters suspicion. Honest people are often praised (though with some exceptions). Dishonest people are denounced (some of the time, at least). So, if you want to live a good life, you’d do well to speak the truth.
Ephesians 4:25 offers an unexpected reason for truth speaking, though. This verse does not say “Speak the truth because it is right” or “because God commands it” or even “because this leads to a better life.” Rather, the rationale for truthfulness in this verse is: “for we are all members of one body.” What calls forth honesty is the fact that we are connected to each other in Christ. We should speak the truth because we belong to each other. The foundation for truthfulness among Christians is the reality of our unity in Christ, a unity forged by God through the cross and by the Spirit.
This rationale for truthfulness—at first surprising—actually makes perfect sense. The more I feel connected to you, the harder it will be for me to lie to you. The more I share life with you, the more I am encouraged to be open with you. The more I experience our unity as members of Christ’s body, the more I will be committed to speaking the truth that is in Jesus so that you might grow in your faith and so that we might grow up together in the body of Christ.
Something to Think About:
When you struggle with speaking the truth or not, what helps you choose truthfulness?
Are you connected to other Christians in a way that encourages you to speak and live the truth?
Something to Do:
As you go about your day, pay attention to any times you are tempted to be less than truthful. Make a mental note, or even a physical note, of what motivated you to speak other than the truth. Later, ask the Lord to show you what you need to learn from this experience (or these experiences).
Gracious God, thank you for joining your people together in one body. Thank you for connecting me to this body, for allowing me to share life with the other members of your body. Help me, Lord, to live out this reality in all that I do. May the fact of my connection to other believers motivate me to speak the truth. And may my truth speaking contribute to the health and growth of your body. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
“You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor” (Exodus 20:16)
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.