“… speaking the truth in love…” Ephesians 4:15
The scriptures couldn’t have spoken more directly to the issue of honesty: “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no.” (James 5:12) Contrary to periodic comments on the campaign trail, the Christian value of honesty is pretty simple: we don’t lie. The words we speak are to be counted on to be the truth. There is no place for dishonesty or deceit in a life of moral integrity. This is a cornerstone to the faith.
Isn’t it incredible that we need to remind ourselves about the importance of truthfulness in the context of listening to those who would be our leaders? Honesty is a fundamental lesson of childhood – as basic as it gets. Yet regularly we hear the “pants on fire” ratings of candidates from both parties to determine which statements are true, half-true, and which are blatant lies.
Dishonesty is, first, a violation of our character. And it also is toxic in developing meaningful relationships. It destroys credibility, and the loss of credibility destroys the trust. Trust, of course, is relationally foundational. Lying may be more expedient or profitable – or even get some votes – but it cannot be done with integrity.
There is a phrase in Ephesians that has always stood out to me. With a beautiful simplicity, Paul begins a teaching with the words, “But speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) Speak the truth in love – what a perfect balance. What is to be spoken is the truth. How it is spoken is with love – with thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and respect.
The word true has its origin in an Old English term which meant loyalty and fidelity. The German origin adds the concept of “faithful.” Loyalty – fidelity – faithfulness. We speak the truth with a loyalty to the relationship. We speak with a fidelity to honesty that builds trust. We speak with a faithfulness to the truth we honor.
As it has been said, our word is our bond. We say what we believe. We can be counted on and trusted. Pretty simple. Like something we learned back in childhood – and would do well to uphold the rest of our lives.
Prayer: O Lord, may our words be true and our tone be kind. In Christ name. Amen.