“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ…Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Devotional: If you’ve been a Christian for long, you’ve likely come across the phrase “speaking the truth in love,” found in Ephesians 4:15. Many Christian readers hear this phrase as a sort of rally cry for speech which draws hard lines between moral “good” and “bad.” For many, to “speak the truth in love” is strictly an exercise in division, whereby the Christian uses verbal statements of truth to distinguish the outsider from the insider. They “speak the truth in love” to their neighbor with whom they disagree politically, or they “speak the truth in love” to the person they deem morally inept. Yet this whole venture is not only unfaithful to the text itself, but more deeply unfaithful to the character and person of Christ, who Paul indicates does not build up dividing walls between insiders and outsiders, but rather tears them down (Epehesians 2:14). There is actually no word in the original Greek text for “speaking” at all in v. 15; the verb here is instead a form of the word for truth, alētheuō, meaning that a better translation would be “truthing in love.” While this comes across a bit awkward in English, it gives us a better indication of what Paul is getting at: we are not simply to speak truths across moral boundaries we have set up, but instead to live out truth through an emulation of Christ Himself. Indeed, it is the person of Christ who is “the truth” (John 14:6); the truth is not found in a set of intellectual moral ascriptions, but in the person of Jesus. So Paul’s invocation here is not to speak, but to live an integrated life that is every day looking more and more like the person of Jesus. He is calling us to live as Jesus lived. We learn how to “truth in love” by living like Jesus, and this often looks quite different than drawing moral boundaries that keep others out. Instead it looks like going to the broken in the world–the poor, the needy, the morally corrupt, the imprisoned–and loving them as Christ loved them. It means giving our lives–our money, our time, our energy–so that others might come to know the love and grace of Christ and have their lives transformed by Him. The job of a Christian is not to stand from a morally elevated platform above a world that they condemn and judge by “speaking the truth in love;” the job of a Christian is to become, as C.S. Lewis said, a “little Christ,” embodying His love and grace for the least, the last, and the lost. -CL
Prayer: Father, teach me to “truth in love” in my life. Teach me not only to speak about you but also to live like you. Empower me to sacrificial love and grace by the work of your Spirit in me. Amen.