Ephesians 4:25-32 The Culture of Truth Speaking
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In this passage, Paul explains how one can speak the truth and live it out. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the sinful patterns of others because it does not concern us. However, as we are family in God, we have a responsibility to turn another brother from sin by speaking the truth and living the example.
Observation & Truth
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
Truth is lived out in the courage to counsel one another. Being family requires that we confront one another about sinful patterns that hinder growth towards maturity. Truth as we have seen in the previous passage refers to putting on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24) and to make known the consequences of sin. Paul instructs believers to stop turning a blind eye to another’s sinful patterns. Falsehood refers to an attitude of “don’t ask, don’t tell”; it also refers to false teachings that recklessly assumes that God has “guaranteed” our status of righteousness. And despite one’s unrepentant ways, he only needs to be assured of his righteousness so that he would not be inconvenienced by guilt.
As we are members of the same family, there is no cause for rejection. Instead, we give permission to one another to speak the truth concerning our weaknesses and save our souls from death (James 5:20). We need to counsel one another in love. Proverbs 11:14 say, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Truth is lived out through a longsuffering attitude towards sin. Anger refers to an emotions that is aroused because of contempt towards God’s laws. When sin is committed that takes advantage of the helpless or hurt the body of Christ, it is legitimate that believers become angry. However, if anger turns into condemnation or an attitude of stereotyping, then it may present an opportunity for the devil. Such an attitude may spurn an attitude of pride and self-righteousness. Believers must refrain from condemning the person who is committing sin, but maintain a hope and fellowship that he may one day turn around.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Truth is lived out through work motivated by love, as opposed to work motivated by envy. The thief typifies the attitude of envy and covetousness that is to take what does not belong to him. However, this does not restrict itself to teaching people not to steal per se but the goal of work life, which is laboring-in-order-to-give. Believers work not to buy bigger condominiums or better toys for themselves, but to give to the needy.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32
Truth is displayed through words that build up. Disdain and hatred for another is expressed through one’s words that come from pant up anger, injustice and bitterness. These negative emotions grieve the Holy Spirit and are like cancer that eats away at the believer and threatens to spread itself through the body. And unless such negative emotions are put away, believers lose the power to influence and to bring change to the community.
How do we put these negative emotions away? Paul instructs believers to begin by forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. The reason believers must accept one another as family even while they are still in their weaknesses is because Christ forgave us while we are still in ours. Romans 5:8 say, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The way to transform the community is not to criticize and condemn sinners, but to first release those negative emotions from our heart. Having filled our heart with kindness and tenderness, we are ready to counsel another brother in a spirit of gentleness.
- Do you know of someone in your church that is under bondage of sin? Perhaps you could approach your pastor for assistance to help this brother.
- Are you constantly angered by injustice that is happening at your workplace or by the behavior of certain Christians, or even persistent false teachings? Go to God in prayer, release your concerns to Him and ask Him what you could do about it. Ask Him to let you feel what He is feeling in His heart.
Dear Lord, use me to be an encouragement and change agent in my church, my family and in my workplace. As I connect with You, help me understand Your concerns for the community and let me be an instrument of Your work. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.