“Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.”
Paul now turns to a series of clear, practical instructions for living new life in Christ. It is a list of things to stop doing (put off) and start doing (put on). It specifies the behavioral transformation from the attitudes and actions of the old nature to the attitudes and actions of the new nature.
From lying to speaking the truth. “Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (v. 25)
When we live in fellowship with God and with each other, we seek the truth and speak the truth. We do not deceive, manipulate, exaggerate, gossip, or distort. We speak truthfully to each other and about each other.
The influences of the culture and the impulses of the old nature motivate people to avoid the truth, distort the truth, or to speak truth in an unloving way or from selfish motives. New life in Christ means saying no to any kind of falsehood.
Truth should be at the heart of what and why we communicate. Very few things in life are more important and impactful than the way you communicate. Words are the currency of human interaction. Communication is how you connect — or disconnect — from others.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” (Proverbs 15.1-2)
In the midst of a difficult, emotionally-charged conversation, you can respond with respect and empathy, or you can react harshly. The first response is described as a “soft answer” that tends to have a calming effect. The latter is described as a “harsh word” that tends to inflame and incite anger.
When a conversation is difficult and emotionally-charged, wise people don’t react, they respond. They are thoughtful and intentional. They are discerning and disciplined. They seek to bring clarity and perspective to the conversation. This is the way our new nature in Christ operates.
At the other end of the spectrum are foolish people who get caught up in their emotions, and then react with heat rather than light. The result is escalated anger, diminished clarity, rash words, hurt feelings, and a damaged relationship. This is the way our old nature operates.
Foolish people speak rashly and without knowledge; wise people seek truth and speak truth. Foolish people use their words to criticize, hurt and tear down; wise people use their words to connect, understand, and gain clarity. Foolish people are reckless with their words; wise people are careful about what they say.
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15.4)