25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us[c] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 4:25-5:2
The relationship between different generations of people is something I’ve become more and more interested in over the past couple of years. This is most likely due to the sort of “fire” my own generation (“the Millennials”) has come under in recent times. The best I can tell, this sort of generational criticism happens to every age group as they come into young adulthood and begin to establish their place in the world. By now you’ve probably heard that Millennials are self-absorbed, entitled, and unwilling to work in less-than-ideal situations in order to have a better future. I like remind people that, to whatever extent these generalizations are true, it’s our Baby Boomer parents who spoiled us 😉. One of the stereotypes about Millennials that I actually love and embrace, though, is our dedication to honesty and authenticity. Folks in my generation have been marketed to on an unprecedented scale (we grew up in the fledgling days of the internet and “church growth” schemes after all), and we place high value on people “being real” and not just trying to sell us something or get something out of us.
Really, though, everyone longs to be their true self without the constraints of “putting up a front” in order to achieve a desired goal. But putting aside honesty and authenticity sure can be useful sometimes can’t it? A simple lie can keep us out of a lot of trouble. A flattering comment can endear us to powerful people. Avoiding a difficult conversation can keep people happy who we definitely don’t want to upset. A word of gossip behind someone’s back can vent our frustration without hurting the relationship. All of this applies, of course, to the short term. Our false facades all have a way of eventually collapsing and leaving us exposed as the false people that we truly are. In light of this reality, let’s heed the Apostle Paul’s command today to put “away falsehood,” to give up lying and stealing, to stop letting “evil talk come out of our mouths,” to channel our anger in healthy and beneficial ways, and to “speak the truth to our neighbors.” The truth is that God always sees through our lies and most likely others will eventually too. May we avoid a lot of grief for the Holy Spirit and ourselves by fully embracing God’s truth as our lifestyle!