July 27, 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.
When we read in Ephesians that we’re supposed to put away falsehood and speak the truth, our minds often jump to challenging situations in which truth-speaking is challenging, even painful. But in many cases speaking the truth can be quite wonderful. We are encouraged to remind each other of the truth of the gospel, God’s love in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we are able to help our brothers and sisters hear in a new way the truth they know in their minds but not in their hearts.
When we read in Ephesians 5 that we are to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to our neighbor, our minds often jump to awkward moments. We picture an annual review where we have to say hard things to an employee. Or we might think about one of our unathletic children saying, “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 really have 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 really focusing on times when the truth has the power to hurt others. 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 had once embraced falsehood. Now that they are in Christ, it’s time to put that away and speak about the truth that is in Jesus, the truth of God’s love and grace, that truth of God’s justice and peace, the truth that all of life matters deeply to God, who is in the process of bringing to unity all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
Notice that Ephesians 4:25 says that “all of us” should put off falsehood and speak the truth. “All of us” means “each and every one of you.” Speaking the truth of God is not just something pastors and church leaders 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 talking only about evangelism; in fact, the focus is upon speaking the truth to our fellow believers. You and I are called to communicate God’s truth to each other. In a similar vein, Colossians 3:16 urges: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” Teaching and admonishing – which is another way of describing speaking the truth – is something for all followers of Jesus to do.
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 at one point, I shared my discouragement. My coffee partner listened well and I felt both heard and loved. 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.”
Didn’t I know this truth already? In a sense, yes, of course I did. 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.
So, though truth-speaking is sometimes difficult, even painful, many times it’s quite wonderful. Through speaking the truth we are able to build up and encourage each other. That’s a wonderful honor, a true gift from God.
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?
Who are the people to whom God has sent you as a messenger of his truth and love?
Today (or if you’re reading this devotion in the evening, tomorrow) speak the truth that will encourage and build up someone else. This person could be in your family or your workplace, or a neighbor or even a stranger. Allow God’s love to flow through the truthful words you speak.
Gracious God, first of all, I thank you for those who have spoken the truth to me. Yes, thank you for 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 all the ways you teach, encourage, admonish, and edify me through the people in my life.
Thank you also, Lord, for the privilege of speaking the truth, your truth, to others. Thank you for entrusting the good news to all of your people—yes, every one of us. 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 wherever I have an opportunity. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Can You Handle the Truth?
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.