Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.
— Ephesians 4:25
I want to talk about the importance of honesty in relationships and the need to deal with past offenses or hurts before they take root in your heart and breed bitterness. I’ll warn you in advance that you will need to pray for wisdom after you read this.
Many times offense and hurt arise from moments when little problems get completely blown out of proportion. At the time, the issue seems so big and all-consuming, but deep down, you know in your heart that it’s stupid and not worth that kind of attention. How often do these little, nitpicky hang-ups steal our time, rob us of our joy, and separate us from others — whether for a few moments, or several hours, or days at a time, or even longer? It is important that we learn to identify and address these minor problems before they escalate into something bigger that ultimately steals our time, robs us of our peace, and separates us from those we love.
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Let’s bring this a little closer to home. Is there anyone in your life right now with whom you’re having a hard time getting along? Perhaps you have a close friend who has disappointed you. Maybe a business acquaintance has rubbed you the wrong way. Or maybe there is someone at church you just can’t stand. You don’t know why you feel the way you do, but when you see them, you feel disgust and intolerance and want to turn the other direction. Perhaps someone has hurt you unintentionally by saying something that was thoughtless, or maybe their attack was entirely purposeful. Regardless of the motive, the person’s words went into your heart like a dagger that you’ve never been able to completely pull out. You still feel the hurt, the wound, and the pain of his or her thoughtless words, actions, and deeds.
As a Christian, you already know what you should do in all of these cases: Ask the Lord to forgive you for your wrong attitude and help you change the way you see the people who have hurt or offended you. You should overlook their weaknesses, forgive them for their wrongs, forget about their characteristics or hang-ups that irk you so much, and then move on as though nothing ever happened to ruffle your feathers. It’s also possible that you might need to prayerfully, honestly, and lovingly communicate with those people about what’s bothering you.
That’s what you should do. You know the Holy Spirit wants you to love them with the love of Jesus. However, the emotions you feel are so strong that you’d rather just look the other way and forget about those who have hurt you. Your flesh doesn’t want to take the time and energy required to forgive them, show God’s love to them, and do as much as you can to preserve or restore those relationships.
And have you noticed how your mind will constantly drift back to that moment when you were hurt, irked, or offended? Subconsciously, you keep rehearsing the whole event over and over again in your mind, examining every little point of what you said and what the other person said. It grates against you as if it just happened minutes ago, when in reality quite a space of time has elapsed and you should be well over it by now. But if the truth be told — you’re not!
If this describes a true scenario in your life, it’s time to let go of your hurt or offense and forgive the person who wronged you. Why is this so crucial? Because these attitudes left unchecked will form a root of bitterness that could eventually ruin your life (see Hebrews 12:15). But in order to free yourself from these destructive mindsets, you must first confront them head-on. You must be honest with yourself and with the person who wronged you.
Honesty is the name of the game when it comes to relationships. Learning to “speak every man truth with his neighbor” is a challenge for the most mature believer. Yet this is the mandate the apostle Paul gave us in Ephesians 4:25 when he said, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”
Paul said that God requires believers to “put away” lying in their relationships. These were mature believers Paul was addressing, so it is unlikely they were lying outright. The Greek word for “lying” is pseudos, which really means dishonesty. Maybe they weren’t outright lying. Maybe they just weren’t being truthful or didn’t know how to be truthful. Regardless of how the situation transpired, it had led to dishonesty. Paul called on them to learn how to speak the “truth” with one another. The word “truth” is alethosi. In this verse, it refers to truthfulness or honesty in relationships.
In spite of Paul’s exhortation for honesty between the members of the Body of Christ, the Church is full of actors who pretend like everything is good when inwardly they are hurt or offended by the words or actions of another believer. They aren’t trying to be dishonest; they’re trying to be mature. They think that by not discussing the issues that bother them, they are being “spiritual.” But this “silent spirituality” is not a sign of spiritual maturity. In fact, it often leads to the cultivation of hostile attitudes, resentment, and a hard heart toward the other party.
Most people choose to simply “grin and bear it” and think that by ignoring their hurt, it will somehow go away by itself. But it rarely happens this way. The hurt may hide itself deep inside the soul for a while, but the next time a similar situation happens with the same person, that old wound will start screaming again.
That’s your signal that you have never really dealt with your heart toward that other person! You never really got over it; you just covered up the hurt.
Honesty might be difficult, but it’s not more difficult than living with a bitter spirit and a bad attitude. Being honest with the one who hurt you may seem difficult at the moment, but when forgiveness clears the breach in the relationship, you are free. Holding on to silent resentment makes you a prisoner in your own mind and emotions.
Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you today about taking action to be honest with someone about a situation you’ve tried to ignore? Well, as I told you at the beginning of the Sparkling Gem, it may be time for you to pray for wisdom!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to help me in this life. He is the Spirit of Truth who alone can lead and guide me into all truth. I receive His counsel and help to open the eyes of my understanding and grant me revelation knowledge as I search my own heart in the light of Your Word. Help me discern the areas where I have become dishonest in my relationships in an attempt to deal with hurts and disappointments. I believe that I receive Your help today as I purpose to change!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
Today I choose to yield to the love of God that is shed abroad in my heart so I can forgive and move forward with integrity and in truth. I recognize the importance of maintaining honesty in my relationships — and that it starts by first being honest with myself. I receive the help of the Holy Spirit, who teaches me how to speak the truth in love so that I may walk with integrity and that I may honor my Lord Jesus in all areas and relationships in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you have a relationship that is dishonest because you do not know how to speak the truth to that other person? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to lie, but has your ignoring of the truth really emerged into a dishonest relationship?
- If you did what the Holy Spirit wanted you to do, what would it be? Do you think the Holy Spirit would tell you to ignore the situation or find a way to discuss it with that other person?
- What actions will you take as a result of reading today’s Sparkling Gem?