The Truth of the Matter
Keith Cogburn, Pastor, Layton Avenue, Greenfield WI
"Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices." Colossians 3:9 (CSB)
Mark Twain is purported to have said he was troubled less by what he couldn't understand in the Bible than by what he actually could understand. Regardless of the translation you consult, today's text reads as a crystal-clear prohibition of lying.
It's hard to imagine a more relevant topic in a day when truth has become such a matter of dispute and contention in the public square. Yet lying and accusations about lying are nothing new in the culture at large. Paul admonished his first-century readers to "put off" the soiled clothing of deceitfulness and falsehood, characteristic of their former lives, in favor of a garment of Christian virtue made possible by the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification in their lives.
In Ephesians, a literary sibling of Colossians, Paul provides an interesting rationale for telling the truth: "because we are members one of another" (4:25, HCSB). Just as he couldn't conceive of a human body turning upon itself, so the idea of the church - the body of Christ - working towards its own demise was unthinkable. Openness, transparency, and truth-telling tempered by love ought to be hallmarks of our lives and believers. And, oh yes, it's also okay at times to keep one's thoughts and feelings to oneself. What a prescription for church health, this virtue of honesty! What a witness in today's word!
PRAYER: Oh God deliver us from playing fast and loose with the truth. Give us wisdom and discernment with our words along with a gentleness inspired by the example of Your Son Christ Jesus in whose name we pray.