Monday, February 12

Being True

Here's a lesson that was very powerful for me tonight. I really love the word of God!

These lessons take us to where Paul gets into the nitty gritty of life now: what specifically to put off, what to put on in its place, and the renewed spirit of mind we should seek. I think he's listing examples, not an exhaustive list, but they are highly important examples. I plan to take these slowly, at least those that relate closely to finances, its use and abuse.

 Eph. 4:25
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.

We see the pattern clearly here:
Put off: Falsehood.
Put on: Speaking the truth to our neighbors.
Renewed spirit of mind: we are members of one another.

Some translators put "lying" here instead of "falsehood." But really, I understand that the Greek meaning is being false. This certainly includes lying, but being false is a much larger problem than just the words that come out of my mouth.

What's the logic for our new mindset here? Well, if your eyes are false to your feet, you'll trip over things or run into walls--and clearly your eyes get hurt as much as feet. If your hands are false while, say, handling a chain saw or power drill, you can bet the whole body will be wounded pretty quick.

So put off being false! Put on speaking truth. Because we're all connected organically, intimately, in the body of Christ.

Application: This applies to how I handle my finances in several ways:
1. Am I false or true to myself about where we stand? If I don't know how much we have currently and what expenses we expect, then I can't live with integrity in the area of money. I am bound to live falsely. I may be intentionally ignoring where we really stand because I'm anxious or afraid to find out, or I may simply be too lazy or even too busy to figure it out. But then I can't live completely honestly in this area. The first step is to be honest with myself, and to know where we stand.

2. Am I false to my wife about what we have and can afford? I often don't want to be honest, because maybe we can't afford something that I really want us to get or do together. Or I am afraid that she will be disappointed, so I am not completely forthcoming. The Lord has been helping me be more honest over the past month. It's hard, because I have to overcome that gut feeling that I'm going to regret it. But I never have. It has actually been freeing to live more responsibly, like walking in the light, with our eyes open, financially.

3. Am I false or speaking truth to my friends about what we have and can afford? This again is hard. My pride gets in the way of saying, "I'm sorry, but I (or we) can't do that right now. It wouldn't be responsible." Sometimes I go along and spend the money we don't have. Other times I bow out quietly trying to avoid the issue. Now I'm not saying living truthfully means I have to broadcast our budget and bank balance all the time, but rather, not being false about this area. The shame and embarrassment I feel do not strike me as rooted in the reality of the Kingdom. As a child of the King I should be free to be honest about what we have or don't have, without fear of what others may think. Lord, give us that freedom!

4. As workers in the Kingdom who raise funds from others, am I false or speaking the truth to our community of donors and supporters, and others who care about our work? This is similar to number 3 above, but more specific. I asked a couple men, two of my mentors at church, to pray for me last week. I shared three financial needs, one being our funding status. They urged me to trust the Lord, and not to try to take matters into my own hands, but to let our friends and supporters know our situation! I have been loathe to do this for many years. It feels like begging to me. Or like it's a lack of faith that God will provide. 

But the message of Ephesians is that we ARE the body of Christ, members of one another. We are to grow up into maturity together, and to maintain the unity of the body in the bond of peace. Ideally, all the members of the body are open and honest with each other. When one part hurts, we all hurt. When one part rejoices, we all rejoice together. So when we have a need, as one part of the body, we should be open without shame with the rest of the body. When we have surplus, we should also be honest, without self-protection or hesitation. In both cases we know Jesus will take care of us. Usually he does so through the body--so if we make our need known, the body can respond. If we make our surplus known, the body can let us know where those resources are most needed. 

Lord, this takes great faith! Shape and change me so that I can live much more this way. This sounds incredibly freeing and life-giving. And scary, unless you change me. Purify me from whatever self-protection and fears lie in the way of me living freely as a member of your body, as one who has a share in the inheritance of the glorious riches you have lavished upon us freely. 


Andy said...

I have been reading in John Stott's commentary on Ephesians recently, and he suggests the idea behind the Greek for “speaking truthfully” might be most clearly expressed as "truthing," which I really like because it suggests (to me, at least) that we need to be honest about ourselves. That seems to be something you are hitting on in this posting, which is very refreshing. I cannot recall having ever heard "telling the truth in love" expounded in any way except as an exhortation to be loving when confronting others. but as I have studied Ephesians, I think it is at least in equal part honesty about ourselves.

Andy said...

You wrote, "the message of Ephesians is that we ARE the body of Christ." I thought you might be interested in my observations on the message of Ephesians.

Erika Carney Haub said...

Hi Jon!

Great reflection. I was personally struck by the following question you posed:

"Am I false or speaking truth to my friends about what we have and can afford? This again is hard. My pride gets in the way of saying, "I'm sorry, but I (or we) can't do that right now. It wouldn't be responsible.""

I have yet to find peace in how to do this well. We struggle with living on little in the midst of wanting to share life and experiences with the people around us (restaurants, plays, Big Sur camping trips :)), and hitting this wall of not wanting to always be the downer because we can't afford to go along. I am encouraged, though, to press on and to seek to be a person who lives truthfully. Thanks!

Eternal Learner said...

Andy, great reflections on your blog! I posted a comment there, too. I really appreciate your comments here, too.

Ericka, thanks for the encouragement. I really enjoy your writing and reflections as well. Your piece on being wheelchair accessible was very striking and has stuck in my mind and heart since I read it a while ago.