“Speak the truth to one another”
There is more to being holy in your speech than simply stopping lying. We need to develop a whole other way of speaking to one another.
It is important we think carefully about what it means to speak the truth.
1. Think for a moment about reasons why a follower of Jesus must be known as a truth speaker. What is the connection between Jesus and truth?
2. What does it mean to speak the truth to one another? What would this look like in a church or small group or family?
3. Interact with the following explanation of what it means to speak the truth by answering the questions found throughout.
The most obvious example of the kind of truth we need to be consistently speaking to each other is the Word of God.
If you listen to yourself talk throughout the day, probably you are sharing all kinds of ideas and words with other people, and sometimes those ideas are really your ideas mainly and not coming from God or having anything to do with His Word. As believers, we need to be people whose minds are filled with the truth of the Word of God instead of simply our own opinions and who know what the Word of God has to say about all kinds of different situations in life, like how to deal with anger, how to forgive, how to be a godly husband, and these are the kinds of truths we should be constantly sharing in a gracious and appropriate and timely way with one another.
*When you give advice to others is it consistently biblical? If we held your counsel up to the Word of God and evaluated it, would it match up?
Ultimately of course we need to be people who really love Jesus and know Jesus and know what God has done for us through Jesus and who are consistently saying true things about Jesus to one another. The truth is in Jesus, so if we are going to speaking the truth to one another, we have to be speaking about Jesus. I am not talking about becoming people who just go away randomly repeating his name, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the blood, the blood, the blood, like a chant without any meaning behind it, but instead I am talking about becoming the kind of people who can speak meaningful and helpful words about Jesus, the gospel and the Word to one another at just the right time and in just the right circumstances.
*Is it normal for you to talk about the gospel in your everyday conversations? If not, why do you think that is?
A second obvious way speaking truth is going to show up is in speaking words that are accurate, sincere, intended to glorify God and truly help the other person.
Each of those terms or phrases is important.
When people hear you speaking about an event or a person they should know that while you may not tell them everything, what you are telling them is accurate.
You can just ask yourself. Is what I am saying accurate? Because obviously not everyone needs to know everything and so we are not lying every time we don’t tell everyone everything. But what we do tell them should be accurate. It shouldn’t present a distorted picture of what is going on. Say for example I am struggling with a particular sin and you come to me and you say, how are you doing spiritually and I am really struggling, now it may be that I don’t need to tell you the sin that I am struggling with because we don’t have that kind of relationship, but at the same time, while I don’t need to tell you everything, I need to be accurate and what I could say is that I am trusting God and He’s working in me but I am really struggling with certain issues right now and I would love it if you would pray for me. And if they ask what are those issues, I might say, well you know, it is something I don’t feel comfortable sharing with you right now. Or if we are having a problem with a certain person, we shouldn’t share what is going on with every person, of course, that’s not lying. But, what we do share should be accurate. You are always having to pick and choose exactly what you tell others about certain situations, but watch out for always picking the good parts about you and the bad parts about others. It’s funny to me how easy it is for us not to share the parts of a situation that make us look bad, but we don’t have nearly as many problems sharing the parts that make other people look bad. That’s something we really have to watch out for. If we only share the parts that makes other look bad and hold off on the parts that make us look bad, then maybe what we are sharing isn’t accurate.
*What are some ways you are tempted to be inaccurate in your speech?
One practical help that I have tried to give my children and I have tried to live out myself is when I don’t know something for sure, I will simply say ‘I think’ because I want to be accurate. I don’t want to give the impression that I know more than I do. Or if I think for example someone is angry or bitter, instead of saying to that person, you are bitter or angry, maybe what I will say is, from my perspective it appears that you are angry at me right now, is that accurate? I don’t want to be saying as absolutely true things that I have no way of knowing are absolutely true.
Sincere is the next quality of the kind of the truthful speech that we need to put on. Sincere means you mean it. And man, what would it be like to be at a place where the person talking to you was saying words that he actually meant? We need to watch out for getting into the habit of constantly saying words we haven’t thought about and don’t really mean. There are certain people who have learned to say the right thing but they don’t mean what they are saying. They pretend like they care for you or they use words that sound like they are supposed to be encouraging, but behind those words, they are false, they are only going through the motions, there is no heart to what they are saying. When we say we agree with someone, we should agree with them. When we make a commitment to someone, we should mean it and not just at that moment and not just to keep them from being upset with us, but we want to be the kind of people that others can just absolutely count on what we say.
*Are there any times in particular when you struggle with being sincere?
Speaking truth requires we be concerned as we speak primarily about glorifying God and doing the other person good. Glory of God first. When we talk we want to become people who are using our words to make God look great. That has to be our first concern, even above how the other person feels or what the other person thinks of us. Sometimes we are more concerned about ourselves than the glory of God and that is going to lead to lying, but when we are first concerned about making God look great we have to be concerned about the truth, because God is as we have seen a God who is truth and we aren’t representing Him well if we are lying. Sometimes we think the worst thing we could do when we are speaking to someone else is make them feel bad, but that really isn’t the worst thing is it? The worst thing is speaking in a way that dishonors God. But because God is not only true, God is also love, of course because of that if we are going to serve Him with our words, we need to speak true words that are designed for the good of the person we are speaking to.
*After reading this section, where do you think your speech needs to improve?
This is the kind of speech that matches up to the new self, speech that is not false but true; but unfortunately, you know I think if we were honest with ourselves have developed habits of speaking that are truly false, more false than true, and those habits don’t change easily, and they don’t usually change without work, and it’s going to take some serious deliberate work to put off these old habits and put on a new habit of speaking the truth that goes along with being a new person.
3. Why should we be people who work hard at speaking the truth? Specifically, how might the Christian’s motivation to speak the truth different than the unbelievers?
You may be getting a little tired and your mind swimming a little bit but don’t give up on me yet because this may be the most important question yet. Because you could go to all sorts of different places, maybe to a Jehovah’s Witness place or a Jewish synagogue and hear that you shouldn’t lie and you should tell the truth instead, but what is especially Christian about this?
Go back to Ephesians 4:25 and notice that Paul begins with a therefore. What is therefore? It is because of what I just said you need to do this. Now this is key. When most non-Christians tell you not to lie but to tell the truth, they just give you the command, they start with the rule. But that’s not the Christian approach. That’s not the gospel approach. With Paul the command doesn’t come first. What comes first is what God did, and Paul is saying that because of what God did, therefore, we must put off lying and put on the truth.
4. Why is it significant that Paul begins with what God has done?
Unbelievers usually just talk about the virtue, it is bad to lie, it is good to tell the truth. But as believers our reasons are different. Our reasons always begin with Jesus Christ and what He did and what He’s accomplished in us. And that is important/essential actually. Non-Christians may come and say put off lying, tell the truth; there’s no therefore – why? Because they assume you have the ability in yourself to obey this command. Come on. Be a good boy. Tell the truth.
Paul doesn’t assume that. He has to begin with this therefore because without a supernatural work of God you can’t obey this. If you are not a believer, Paul is not just telling you to go home and work harder at being truthful. Please don’t hear that.
Your habitual lying is a symptom of a bigger problem in your life that you have to deal with first before you can ever deal with your lying. You are enslaved to a self-centered way of looking at the world. You have to get people to approve of you, so you lie. You are worried about the consequences of what might happen if you told the truth, so you try to save yourself by lying. But this will never work. You cannot be your own Savior. If you try to save yourself by your own efforts, like through lying, you will only end up destroying yourself. If you want to overcome this sin of lying, you need to stop trusting in yourself, and turn to the Savior God has provided in Jesus Christ. He provides complete forgiveness of sins and approval with God, he took the punishment for your sin and provides the righteousness you need, so you won’t have to worry about approval from people because you will know you have approval with God on the basis of Christ’s work; and He makes a promise to those who love Him, that He will work everything out for your good and so if you get yourself in a situation and you are getting worried you can just rest in the fact that God will take care of that situation, no matter how bad it looks and work it out for your good, which means you don’t have to worry about manipulating the situation through your own words to get your good. You just have to focus on obeying God and allow Him to take care of the rest.
5. Explain how lying is a form of self-salvation and how truly overcoming the sin of lying begins with believing the gospel.
6. If you go back to verse 25 once again, what specific reason does Paul give us for not lying?
It has to do with a special reality in the church. Paul says that “we are members of one another.”
He’s taking us back of course to what he’s been saying about the church. It’s not just a group of individuals out to get our own way who gather once a week; we actually belong to one another now, here the picture is that we are one body in Christ. And when you lie to someone else, it is like you are lying to yourself. When you set traps for someone else, it is like you are setting traps for yourself. When you try to manipulate someone else, it is like you are trying to manipulate yourself, which of course makes absolutely no sense.
Can you imagine what would happen if parts of your body decided they were going to do that to other parts of your body? If you were walking along and your eye lied to your foot about a step? No there’s no step there, bang, flat on your face. If your nerves told your fingers, no that is not hot, wow, ouch your fingers burned by the flames. We would be freaks if our body lied to each other, and as a church, we are truly one body and so we can’t be lying to one another, we need to speak the truth.
7. What are some specific ways you can be different as a result of what you studied? How will you seek to apply this passage to your life, to your small group and to your church?