Speak every man truth with his neighbor - Truth was but of small account among many of even the best heathens, for they taught that on many occasions a lie was to be preferred to the truth itself. Dr. Whitby collects some of their maxims on this head.
Κρειττον δε ελεσθαι ψευδος, η αληθες κακον· "A lie is better than a hurtful truth." - Menander.
Το γαρ αγαθον κρειττον εστι της αληθειας· "Good is better than truth." - Proclus.
Ενθα γαρ τι δει και ψευδος λεγεσθαι, λεγεσθω . "When telling a lie will be profitable, let it be told." - Darius in Herodotus, lib. iii. p. 101.
"He may lie who knows how to do it εν δεοντι καιρῳ, in a suitable time." - Plato apud Stob., ser. 12.
"There is nothing decorous in truth but when it is profitable; yea, sometimes και ψευδος ωνησεν ανθρωπους, και τ 'αληθες εβλαψεν, truth is hurtful, and lying is profitable to men." - Maximus Tyrius, Diss. 3, p. 29.
Having been brought up in such a loose system of morality, these converted Gentiles had need of these apostolic directions; Put away lying; speak the truth: Let lying never come near you; let truth be ever present with you.
We are members one of another - Consider yourselves as one body, of which Jesus Christ is the head; and as a man's right hand would not deceive or wrong his left hand, so deal honestly with each other; for ye are members one of another.
Wherefore putting away lying - It may seem strange that the apostle should seriously exhort Christians to put away “lying,” implying that they were in the habit of indulging in falsehood. But we are to remember:
(1) that lying is the universal vice of the pagan world. Among the ancient pagans, as among the moderns, it was almost universally practiced. It has been remarked by a distinguished jurist who had spent much time in India, that he would not believe a Hindu on his oath. The same testimony is borne by almost all the missionaries. of the character of pagans everywhere. No confidence can be placed in their statements; and, where there is the slightest temptation to falsehood, they practice it without remorse.
(2) the Ephesians had been recently converted, and were, to a great extent, ignorant of the requirements of the gospel. A conscience has to be “created” when pagans are converted, and it is long before they see the evils of many things which appear to us to be palpably wrong.
(3) the effects of former habits abide long, often, after a man is converted. He who has been in the habit of profane swearing, finds it difficult to avoid it; and he who has been all his life practicing deception, will find himself tempted to practice it still. It was for reasons such as these, probably, that the apostle exhorted the Ephesians to put away “lying,” and to speak the truth only. Nor is the exhortation now inappropriate to Christians, and there are many classes to whom it would now be proper - such as the following:
(1) He who is in the habit of concealing the defects of an article in trade, or of commending it for more than its real value - “let him put away lying.”
(2) he, or she, who instructs a servant to say that they are not at home, when they are at home: or that they are sick, when they are not sick or that they are engaged, when they are not engaged - “let them put away lying.”
(3) he that is in the habit of giving a coloring to his narratives; of conveying a false impression by the introduction or the suppression of circumstances that are important to the right understanding of an account - “let him put away lying.”
(4) he that is at no pains to ascertain the exact truth in regard to any facts that may affect his neighbor; that catches up flying rumors without investigating them, and that circulates them as undoubted truth, though they may seriously affect the character and peace of another - “let him put away lying.”
(5) he that is in the habit of making promises only to disregard them - “let him put away lying.” The community is full of falsehoods of that kind, and they are not all confined to the people of the world. Nothing is more important in a community than simple “truth” - and yet, it is to be feared that nothing is more habitually disregarded. No professing Christian can do any good who has not an unimpeachable character for integrity and truth - and yet who can lay his hand on his breast and say before God that he is in all cases a man that speaks the simple and unvarnished truth?
For we are members one of another - We belong to one body - the church - which is the body of Christ; see the notes Romans 5:12. The idea is, that falsehood tends to loosen the bonds of brotherhood. In the “human body” harmony is observed. The eye never deceives the hand, nor the hand the foot, nor the heart the lungs. The whole move harmoniously as if the one could put the utmost confidence in the other - and falsehood in the church is as ruinous to its interests as it would be to the body if one member was perpetually practicing a deception on another.
Love for souls for whom Christ died means crucifixion of self. He who is a child of God should henceforth look upon himself as a link in the chain let down to save the world, one with Christ in His plan of mercy, going forth with Him to seek and save the lost. The Christian is ever to realize that he has consecrated himself to God, and that in character he is to reveal Christ to the world. The self-sacrifice, the sympathy, the love, manifested in the life of Christ are to reappear in the life of the worker for God. DA 417.1
“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” Selfishness is death. No organ of the body could live should it confine its service to itself. The heart, failing to send its lifeblood to the hand and the head, would quickly lose its power. As our lifeblood, so is the love of Christ diffused through every part of His mystical body. We are members one of another, and the soul that refuses to impart will perish. And “what is a man profited,” said Jesus, “if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” DA 417.2
Beyond the poverty and humiliation of the present, He pointed the disciples to His coming in glory, not in the splendor of an earthly throne, but with the glory of God and the hosts of heaven. And then, He said, “He shall reward every man according to his works.” Then for their encouragement He gave the promise, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” But the disciples did not comprehend His words. The glory seemed far away. Their eyes were fixed upon the nearer view, the earthly life of poverty, humiliation, and suffering. Must their glowing expectations of the Messiah's kingdom be relinquished? Were they not to see their Lord exalted to the throne of David? Could it be that Christ was to live a humble, homeless wanderer, to be despised, rejected, and put to death? Sadness oppressed their hearts, for they loved their Master. Doubt also harassed their minds, for it seemed incomprehensible that the Son of God should be subjected to such cruel humiliation. They questioned why He should voluntarily go to Jerusalem to meet the treatment which He had told them He was there to receive. How could He resign Himself to such a fate, and leave them in greater darkness than that in which they were groping before He revealed Himself to them? DA 417.3Read in context »
It would be helpful for the youth, and for parents and teachers as well, to study the lesson of co-operation as taught in the Scriptures. Among its many illustrations notice the building of the tabernacle,—that object lesson of character building,—in which the whole people united, “everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whom his spirit made willing.” Exodus 35:21. Read how the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt by the returned captives, in the midst of poverty, difficulty, and danger, the great task successfully accomplished because “the people had a mind to work.” Nehemiah 4:6. Consider the part acted by the disciples in the Saviour's miracle for the feeding of the multitude. The food multiplied in the hands of Christ, but the disciples received the loaves and gave to the waiting throng. Ed 286.1
“We are members one of another.” As everyone therefore “hath received a (R.V.) gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 4:10. Ed 286.2
Well might the words written of the idol builders of old be, with worthier aim, adopted as a motto by character builders of today: Ed 286.3
“They helped everyone his neighbor; and everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage.” Isaiah 41:6. Ed 286.4Read in context »