Today we read on in the part of Ephesians where Paul sets out the consequences of Christian faith. (The reading is Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2)
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.Ephesians 4:25
Last week I pointed out that the letter to Ephesians divides at 4:1 between what God has done (chapters 1-3) and the consequences (4-6). There is always the temptation to think we know already. How often do we hear “I know right from wrong!”. I suggest we need to look carefully, to re-read the instructions. Look at this verse. Lying is normal in many societies, now as always. Yet it causes great problems.
If Christians were known as people who always spoke truly, think of the difference it would make! There would be great demand for them in politics, management, unions, caring professions, police . . But Christians aren’t known for telling the truth, which is a pity.
But it is about far more than job opportunities. Think about ourselves. Lying is often about boasting, or trying to protect yourself. What if we told, and knew, the truth about ourselves? Self-assessment with humility and honesty, but not leaving out the positives: gifts, opportunities, abilities to serve. There would be real advantages, but how are we to get there? We would have to develop the habit of speaking the truth among ourselves – with proper respect, and honest re-direction of misunderstanding and false ambition.
Then, what about the truth about other people? Are they celebrity superstars, or rubbish? Neither, of course. They are sinners, like us. Flawed, but with the hope of repentance, forgiveness, and new life given by a gracious God. We need to be honest about that, and ready to speak of it.
I could go on. What about the truth about what we are doing to our environment? About the true need for Fair Trade? How does God truly see our church, and others? If we were known as people who could be relied on to tell the truth, with gentle respect, trust among Christians would increase, giving a new quality to fellowship between believers. Christians would be more valued in the community.
So, yes, truth is important. It needs more thought and practice. And this is just the first verse of 8 in the 2nd reading of 3. We don’t know it all; we need to look more carefully, and then with God’s help, to practice!