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Monday, January 31, 2011

Speaking Truth

I'm remembering a dear brother in Christ from about 50 years ago. Let me introduce you to my friend by first doing a little preaching. Ephesians 4:15 exhorts us to be "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ." In it's context those words are telling us how we contribute to each other's spiritual growth. The body is a unit, but each of us has his or her own contribution to the good of all the rest. And at least one way this is done is by the way we talk to each other. Here the apostle tells us to speak truth to each other.

I can imagine at least three ways in which speaking the truth in love can be understood as designed to build up one another. First, of course, is the sense in which untruths will only lead us astray. And that never helps us grow. Vital, helpful relationships are characterized by honesty. My wife always asks me how she looks in a particular combination of clothing or jewelery. I never allow myself to be cruel about it, but I know she expects the truth from me. I'll tell her why I like something else better. The lesson here is that a wife should never ask her husband questions like this and then get miffed when she is told the truth. In the long run, the honesty is appreciated as helpful and contributes to the intimacy a couple enjoys.

The second sense in which speaking the truth can be understood, is found in verse 29 where the apostle insists that we never speak corrosive words, but only words that build up and minister grace. This is akin to the old adage that if you can't say something nice about a person, don't say anything at all. That may not be a bible quotation, but it is biblical in its sentiment.

But I can't shake the notion that the phrase "speaking the truth in love" carries an even more profound sense. I think we need to speak THE truth to one another. Not necessarily just quoting bible verses to each other, but reminding each other of bible truths will certainly be edifying.

I think I have experienced this. When I was in seminary (many years ago) we attended a little OPC in Philadelphia called "Mediator". Barbara and I worked with the Jr. Hi kids in this church, and there was an elder there whose name was Charles Mayson. I love that man. He had the most uncanny ability to stimulate my thinking in godly ways. In natural conversation he would ask questions like, "Do you think Jesus knew our names?" Then we would talk through who Jesus is, and see the obvious conclusion together. "Does God change His plans in order to answer our prayers?" We both knew better than that, but chatting about the answer took my mind in good spiritual pathways. I wish I could identify a friend today who stimulated me the way Charles Mayson did.

A few years ago we found Barbara's baptismal certificate in our archives, and were taken aback to find it was signed by elder Charles Mayson. It seems that Barbara's father, the Rev. Russell D. Piper, also attended Westminster Seminary, and knew that same elder when his first child was born and was presented for baptism.

I think I'll pray that God will give me a friend like that. Better yet, I need to pray that I might be that kind of friend to someone else.

1 comment:

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