"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:25-26
Calling someone a liar is harsh. Are you more comfortable with words like "disingenuous", "deceptive", or even "exaggerator"? We can argue semantics here and define a liar as someone who makes a habit of intentionally speaking untruths or falsehoods . We could even split hairs and say a liar wishes to do harm, the ultimate, manipulative bad-guy or villain. Some of you out there, like me, hear one little white lie, slight exaggeration or overly saccharine greeting out of a passerby, and label that perpetrator as a liar. No more trust for that guy ever. Grace comes easier for some than others.
This short note to the Ephesians struck me today. I found it a little funny actually. You see, in my family, honesty is of highest import. Authenticity is praised and taught in our home. When honesty is a priority, you may find (like the verse seems to hint) anger often follows. Truth telling isn't always sweet or ego-building. Facts are facts. As soon as they are stretched or adjusted to save the face of the hearer, that fact is tainted material, and the more fluff you add to save your skin or the feelings of the hearer, the less likely the actual truth is heard. Truth-telling requires speaking openly, directly, and precisely. It requires a mutual understanding from both parties that the best intention is meant, even if the message is difficult to hear.
Today, I thank Paul for reminding me, as he did the Ephesians, that when in a familial relationship with others, honesty is important to maintain that relationship. That is a difficult practice, indeed. It again, puts us in the driver's seat of our own emotions and intentions.
Will I, out of fear of hurting others, stretch or manipulate the truth? Why risk a friendship with dangerous honesty? What happens when the absolute truth is discovered? Will I then lose respect?
Will I, out of fear of rejection, neglect to share my confessions? Will I hide in my frailty to appear strong? Will I attempt to carry a heavy burden alone out of pride?
Will I hear honesty and receive it with humilty instead of defensiveness?
How would you answer?