If these verses don’t step on your toes then you just aren’t thinking hard enough! Paul is solidly into the application part of his letter, instructing us exactly how we are to live in Christ. We are to lay aside every form of falsehood, including not only bald-faced lies but “little white lies” - exaggerating, breaking promises, betrayal of a confidence (gossip), and so forth. We tell the small half-truth, “Oh, I wasn’t feeling well” when we just felt slightly bad but truly just didn’t want to meet an obligation. Since becoming a stay at home mom I tell telemarketers that I can’t give or am not interested because I am currently unemployed – which is really implying something that is untrue. I used to tell them I wasn’t there to take their call! We say, “Oh your new haircut is just beautiful!” Now it is tricky to always tell the truth without unnecessarily hurting others, but it can be done! We stretch a story a bit to make ourselves look better or to make it funnier. We fall into the silent lie and allow people to believe things about us that are not true.
Our yes should be yes and our no should be no. Our word should be totally trustworthy. John Eadie wrote, “Christians are to speak the whole truth, without distortion, diminution, or exaggeration. No promise is to be falsified—no mutual understanding violated. The word of a Christian ought to be as his bond, every syllable being but the expression of ‘truth in the inward parts.’” Paul is not suggesting we speak truth whenever possible but commanding it (present imperative), calling for truth to be our habitual way of speaking day in and day out.
“Laying aside” literally means to put or take something away from its normal location and put it aside out of the way. It was used of runners who participated in the Olympic Games who cast off their clothes and ran naked in the stadium. Now, don’t start running around nude and use your jailhouse call on me! But we should fling away the nasty filthy garment of sin that once clung to us and put on Christ and his armor instead – gird your loins with truth! Pollster George Gallup indicts us when he says, “church attendance makes little difference in people’s ethical views and behavior with respect to lying, cheating, pilferage, and not re-porting theft.” That absolutely breaks my heart. As a body Christians should be seen as the most truthful group in the world, even to our own detriment. But statistically we are just like everyone else.
What makes you angry? Sometimes it’s the people we love most – I tend to lose my temper most often with my children and husband. But this is not righteous anger, even when I am angry at my children for some sinful behavior. I get angry most often because I lose it! We get angry when someone cuts us off in traffic, when we feel betrayed, when we feel someone at work has mistreated us, and when we feel life has been unfair to us. But we see sin destroying people and feel no righteous anger, even laughing at sins on sitcoms or in movies. We should be righteously angry at the sin and injustice in the world. We should grieve for the hungry, the poor, the homeless, the lost, the abused, the enslaved – but we shake our heads and move on. Righteous anger should propel us into changing the world!
When we do have conflicts it is best to deal with them right away. The longer we postpone working things out, the less likely we are to ever mend the relationship. We give Satan an opportunity as we stew things in our minds, “I can’t believe she said that to me. She is such a jerk! I can’t stand to be around her!” Satan gains a foothold in our hearts when sin is not addressed right away.
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, Col. 3:8-9