March 13, 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.
No matter your political persuasion, you’ll surely agree that we live in the era of fake news. Both sides of the political spectrum accuse the other of propagating news that is not true. And both sides deny the charges yet step up their accusations against the other side. Truth-speaking, whether from news sources, political leaders, or celebrities, is hard to find these days.
Ephesians 4:25 speaks into our era of fake news with incisiveness: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Let’s examine this verse closely and in context.
My last few Life for Leaders devotions focused on Ephesians 4:22-24. 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: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.”
The phrase “put off falsehood” uses the Greek verb that appears in verse 22: “You were taught . . . to put off your old self.” Clearly verse 25 provides a specific example of the general “putting off ” command. One way we take off the old self is by taking off falsehood.
But, as we have seen in previous devotions, taking off the old self 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, “and speak truthfully to your neighbor.” 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.
Something to Think About:
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?
Something to Do:
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 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.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
Authentic Communication Requires Truthtelling
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.