We feel it, experience it, and see it all around us.
We live in a culture that does not delight in truth…and it can subtly shape followers of Christ to do the same.
Everyone wants others to be truthful with them (until they don’t), yet we listen to the whisper of the enemy of our souls that says, “Wouldn’t it be better not to tell the whole truth? Wouldn’t it be better to make someone believe something that is not fully accurate? What is the point in even bringing ‘this’ up?”
“Everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.” (Jeremiah 9:5) We convince ourselves there is a good reason for covering the truth because “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; who can cure it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
And, every time we entertain that thought, even for just a moment, we have opened the door to deceiving and being deceived.
“Speak the truth in love…”
It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command because it reflects the very character of God – He is Faithful and True.
God does not lie. He does not use strategically crafted words to speak to His people and make them assume something that is not factual. What He says, He will do. What He speaks, we can trust.
God is love, and love speaks the truth.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to (one another)…and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:25, 27)
We put ourselves in situations we shouldn’t have…so we cover.
We want to maintain a reputation…so we craft an explanation.
We want to win a debate…so we skew the facts.
We want to keep from hurting another’s feelings…so we keep what should be in the open, so it can be healed, in the dark.
We want to avoid conflict…so we keep silent.
We want to avoid a material loss…so we change the facts ever so slightly.
We want personal, political, or economic gain…so we frame our words to be “strategic” so they cover the lie with the shake of a lie!
And what is at the center of each of these is self-love and self-preservation.
But God never honors deceit.
God never honors carefully crafted explanations to cover our tracks.
God never honors even a well-formed argument that is based on a lie.
God never honors secrets kept in the dark from those who are closest to us and with whom we should be fully transparent.
God never honors silence when there should be either loving confrontation or repentance. The conflict isn’t avoided; it is delayed, and the consequences to the relationships are greater when the postponement is extended…because often, it simply never happens.
God never honors changing facts to avoid penalties.
God never honors anything done out of self-love or self-preservation.
The reality is, if we do get away with the direct lie, the hidden secret, or the words or actions intended to deceive, because of His great love for us and for Truth, the Lord never lets it stay hidden; and all the things we intended to keep from being known or from happening come full circle and we often experience a more negative outcome. All the things we kept from another to assuage their feelings cause them greater hurt and more consequences in the end.
Truth sometimes comes with a cost, but what is gained is far greater.
Our walk with the Lord is not hindered; rather, it is strengthened as we live out the very character of God – Truth and Love – and submit to what is sometimes hard.
Our integrity in showing humility creates trust that might otherwise have been fully destroyed.
Our ability to love well is increased. Love “…rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:6, 7)
And because of love…
Truth increases trust.
Truth intensifies hope.
Truth encourages perseverance.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
If we want to grow in Christ, to deepen and strengthen relationships with one another rather than weakening them, to continue to be used as an instrument for the Kingdom of God, we will put aside our fears and self-love, and “speak truth to one another”…with the greatest of tender love.
And, when another speaks truth to us that isn’t comfortable for whatever reason, we must humbly receive it, talk freely about it, then take it to the cross together.
“These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another…” (Zechariah 8:16)