Three Dos And Three Don’ts And A Promise
“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:25
The idea of everyone speaking truth to his neighbor has a particular reference to the household of faith. As believers we need the faithful perspective of our trusted mature-in-the-faith brothers and sister to keep us all on course toward the prize of what the Scriptures call the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
In order to advance along the way we need those who will tell us when we may not be aware of things in our lives that will hinder us from advancing, but we don’t need people who will, in the name of just telling it like it is, to go out of their way to make us “perfect” while they are just full gossip, talebearing, criticism, cynicism, pessimism and negativism. That is not speaking truth.
Sargent Joe Friday in the old TV show, Dragnetwas famous for getting some of his female witnesses to get to the point by saying, “Just the facts Ma’am.” But, the passage does not say, “speak every manfactsto his neighbor.” Speaking “facts” has a pesky way of being subject to the perspective or attitude of the witness. But truth is immutable, unchanging, established and eternal.
Truth is only ultimately found in God alone. So, speaking the truth with our neighbors is more about speaking God’s Word concerning any matter that concerns us, more than just rehearsing each one’s shortcomings or faults to our neighbors. Truth is also about being encouraging and edifying one another with God’s Word and promises. Speaking the truth to our neighbors ought to be always motivated by love with the goal of building up one another in the holy faith. It’s the Holy Spirits job to convince and convict us of sin. It is our job to edify one another and exhort one another to good works. That is speaking truth to one another indeed.
There are also times in our lives that we can and should be righteously angry. God is anger with sin everyday and so should we be. We have a right to be angry with the works of the devil and darkness. But we are not called to sin because of our anger. Our anger should embolden us to do spiritual warfare against our true enemy, who is not flesh and blood, not our neighbor, nor anyone but the devil himself.
We should never allow conflicts between our spouses, our friends, our family or our neighbors fester all day and into the night. Whatever is necessary, we should do all within our power to resolve conflicts before the day ends so that our sleep is without agitation and upheaval which works against our good physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Finally, none of us would think for a moment that it’s ok to pal around with the devil or sit down to table with him for a meal. We would resist every thought of inviting him into our homes or giving him access to our most treasured possessions and relationships. But, without intending to do so we can unwittingly do just that when we open ourselves to all kinds of temptations, enticements and seductions by not being watchful and vigilant to avoid them vigorously, by not being discerning, by giving in to every lustful thought and becoming enticed.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Now, hear the good news.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 1:8-2:1
Hear also, therefore, the warning.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Finally, hear the promise.
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
Do cease from lying, as was the common practice among the Gentiles
Do speak the truth with your neighbors
Do be angry when it is called for
Don’t harbor wrath for even a day
Don’t give place in your house, your relationships or your mind to the devil