Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
I want you to see something today, and I pray that God gives you a heart to bear His word of truth. There is an essential element that is to be present among the Body of Christ in every dealing we have with one another. An element contrary to the natural tendency of man scarcely found functioning properly in an earthly household, and at times requires the utmost bravery and courage. It rarely will make you feel comfortable and will almost always appear as bad timing. Unlike flattery, it’s aim is not to make us feel good and it will rub against our love for ease when locking eyes with its recipient. Yet, it must be working actively in our midst regardless of our wiring and bent. This is our Father’s heart and should be our daily plea: Family of God, let us speak truth to one another.
Reflecting God’s Character
In our individualistic culture, it is easy for us as believers to forget biblical ecclesiology, and to function in our day to day lives as private citizens of heaven—just me, myself, and God. This is not the scriptural demonstration of the universal church of God. As my pastor often says, “The gospel is personal, but it is not private.” The beauty of the gospel is in the way it is carried out through the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God. There is an eternal purpose in our redemption (Ephesians 1:9,11), and that purpose is never carried out in full individually. Paul says that we are, “members of one another.” The Greek word means “limb of the body.” We are not only neighbors walking side by side, but we are also tied and knit together as the wrist is to the hand, the ankle to the foot. Our proper functioning is dependent upon the proper functioning of our fellow-member—let that sink in for a moment.
1 Corinthians 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”
Right now, we exist as Christ’s body, Him being the head (Ephesians 1:23), signifying His Lordship over us and our unity in Him. Christ has given each member a specific gift (Ephesians 4:8) for the building up of the Body (Ephesians 4:12) that we may all reach in full measure a state of maturity (Ephesians 4:13). In order for this to happen, there is one component that must exist, that is, speaking the truth to one another, out of tender care and concern. In doing this, we affirm the claims of Christ boldly, displaying to the world Truth Himself, thereby reflecting God’s character.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6)”. Jesus is the Word that became flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). When we say we are God’s children, we affirm that Christ is Truth and in Him is no deceit. We not only mentally assent to this, but our lives are to display the evidence of our faith in His character. We are to look like our Father, but how can we look like Him apart from exuding such an essential attribute of Him?
1 John 3:18— “Little children, let us not love in word and in talk but in deed and in truth.”
Speaking the truth to one another testifies of two things: God is truth and that Satan is a liar. We are to speak truth because it testifies that we are joined together with Truth Himself as our Head, and we have denounced the old way that testifies we are under a different fatherhood—the father of lies, the devil.
Notice, Paul says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25)”.
Before this passage, scripture reminds us that we have “put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22)”, and this old self was enslaved to sin, held captive by the Deceiver. Jesus describes him as such:
John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When we negate our responsibility to speak truth to one another, at that moment, we are acting apart from our new nature, obeying our fleshly desires, resorting to methods that reflect our adversary, not our loving God of truth. The temptation in this life will always be to take the easy road for the sake of our own comfort and reputation. It requires great faith to speak truth to our brother and sister, at the expense of our comfort and theirs, yet it is worth it and necessary for the unity and holiness of the Body.
Christian maturity is knowing truth, discerning deceit, and speaking to one another gospel-truth in love. We are called to reflect the unchanging nature of our Lord, and as we entrust ourselves to Him in all things, this frees us to talk with each other truthfully. When we do this, we show we actively care about the unity of Christ’s body, the joy of our neighbor, and God’s character is being reflected clearly amidst our local church, community, and world. Passivism is tempting, but the truth is freeing.
We all know the gut-wrenching moment of having to be honest with each other when we know it will hurt feelings, or place others in a fragile emotional state. Speaking truth has to be done in love, and if it is not, I would argue it is not done truthfully. Elevating truth over love makes us topsy turvy. When we do this, we reflect poorly the beautiful, cohesive nature of our God. Speaking the truth in love emits to one another the truth our brother needs to hear but also carries with it the hope of the gospel and reminds us both that God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). Charles Spurgeon put it well, “When we have to do a severe thing, let us choose the tenderest manner
When we speak to one another our goal should never be to hurt, slander, make a point, or congratulate ourselves. The aim of our honesty is love for our Father and care for our fellow-member.
1 Corinthians 12:26– “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
By now, you should see your incapability of obeying this command. I feel it, you feel it, we all feel it. We have all fallen short in our grace and love, truth and holiness, which is why in our endeavors to be obedient, we must keep the gospel at the forefront of our minds, for the comfort of our self-condemnation-bent souls. Daily we are face to face with the temptation to reflect or neglect Truth’s beauty, and daily we need the Spirit’s strength and ability to carry out what we do so poorly on our own. I don’t know about you, but I am bad at this, and I hate that I am bad at this. I desire to be the one who everyone regards as grace-filled, truth-speaking, love-giving— every conversation seasoned with life and freedom—perfect in every confrontation and commendation. This is why we will always fall short apart from Christ because often the end of our desire is to appear as such is not a desire to reflect God, but a desire to esteem ourselves. Yet, thank our patient Lord, we are fully dependent upon His goodness not our own.
The Valley of Vision helpfully tells us, “Thou art the end of all means, for if they lead me not to thee, I go away empty. Spirit of love, make me like the loving Jesus; give me his benevolent temper, his beneficent actions, that I may shine before men to thy glory.”
Christ is the source of all truth, and from His well we drink and are satisfied. Jesus is Truth, and He is Love, and we are united with Him in both. Today, the greatest hope for the family of God is not necessarily how well we speak truth to one another, but how well we reflect Truth to one another in every way, word and deed. Let us be brave as we consider the inseparable love of God towards us as His children, and not give way to the old self’s passivism and cowardice.
May we put away falsehood, remembering we are in this together, speaking gospel-truth in a way that brings freedom and life. When we fail at this, because we have and we will let us hold fast to the hope of the gospel, repenting of our sin and placing our faith in the cross of Christ. We can denounce the old manner of life—trying to do everything perfectly from our own sin-stained efforts—and live in the blood-bought grace of Christ that frees us to exist for His glory and not our own. Just as we need to speak truth to each other, likewise we are to forgive each other when that is done poorly, encouraging our neighbor of our righteous position before a holy God.
We need one another, and that is a terrifying thought some days because of our hard, self-sufficient heart. Putting off that attitude, we can put on the new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24)”, reflecting Truth and neglecting falsehood, to the praise of the One who holds us all together, the head of the body, Christ Jesus the Truth. Family of God, let us speak truth to one another.