The Lord Jesus Christ testified that He was the light of men and therefore the Light had come into the world. Now that Christ is at the right hand of the Father those that are in Him, though we live in this present evil world, are to continue the tradition in His stead. We too are light, light in Him – light that is to shine in the midst of the perverse and crooked nations of the world.
As those that have believed the gospel of the grace of God we are, to be honest: 1) We are, to be honest about those that occupy the offices of higher power, that they are under sin, 2) we are, to be honest with ourselves that sin can still influence us because it resides in our mortal bodies, and 3) God has purified us unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. When we are honest with these fundamental truths, understanding how to be light becomes quintessential.
Light of Truth
Throughout the testimony of scripture, many of the contexts of light parallel or are almost synonymous with truth. For example, the Word was made flesh and He was the Light of the world. Also, after His initial teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that communicated truth in contrast to the Pharisaical lies, Christ taught that His teaching was the believing Jews source of light – to be the light of the world. Again, the Apostle Paul in Ephesians declares we “were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord”. He then follows it up by stating, “walk as children of light”, an injunction to be followed because the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The truth is solely found in God’s Word and is thus, the word of truth. Shining as lights in the world is fixed upon holding forth the word of life. Yet, we will never walk as children of light, like those that hold for the word of life, if we do not esteem the Word of God as our preeminent authority. Is the word of God your sole authority in doctrine and practice?
The Richly Dwelling Word
Although justified in Christ we are not excluded from being wise in our own conceits; that is, to hold our conceits as our authority and base our thinking and life from them. Therefore reading, studying, and meditating on the word of truth is all the more necessary to eradicate our conceits, that exalt themselves against the knowledge, mind, and wisdom of God in Christ. The word of Christ is able to dwell richly when it is glorified and held in the midst of the heart. The free course of God’s Word in our inner man enlightens our dark hearts giving us the power to be lights that shine. The light of truth that dwells richly in the believer in which it has free course becomes the source to shine as lights. The light we see shines, but the light we don’t see contains an incomparable quality. The light of truth is comprised with truth but is designed to be accompanied by a manner, a conversation that affects its host and thus influences the temperament, attitude, and way in which truth is communicated.
The Conversation of Truth
Therefore, if we want to lead the quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, shining as lights in this dark world, we know that we must be enamored by His truth. The word of truth reveals error, its light manifests the darkness; yet, its working extends to the manner in which it reveals and manifests itself. The conversation of truth is comprised of its points and facts, but by nature takes into consideration the intimacy of social intercourse. Knowing that the darkness of the world resides in the hearts of men, it is the heart that truth is concerned. We should not communicate truth egregiously with pretense, strife, or envy. In other words, when we shine as lights we are engaging the heart, not fact-telling – seeking to lead and persuade someone to possess the truth, not only exclaim others are wrong. The conversation of truth carries with it godly charity. The truth of godly charity must be learned in contrast to worldly charity. Godly charity reflects the godly manner in which truth is to be communicated. The light of truth is so qualitatively different than those exercised by its use, in their minds to discern good and evil, easily see the glaring contrast of truth and lies. Yet, there is a fleshly tendency to not yield to all of the truth, specifically the truth of godly charity that is to carry the substance of truth. Wherefore, those in Christ often neglect truths’ conversation.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
For instance, here in Colossians Paul plainly teaches how we are to communicate the truth. The truth in which we are to learn, teach, and walk after is taught in the previous chapters of Colossians, but in chapter four he exhorts how this truth is to be communicated and spoken.
Speech Alway with Grace
Speech is the means by which we shine the light of truth. The darkness of this world will never be manifest without us opening our mouths. We are called to preach, teach, speak, and not hold our peace (which doesn’t mean strive against someone when teaching the truth). The conversation of truth necessitates the manner in which we share the truth, but never compromises the truth communicated. As ambassadors and those called to do the work of the evangelist, we are to be winsome. We will never win if we corrupt the truth. Nevertheless, the conversation of truth isn’t one of striving, verbal brawling, or speech that can be condemned. When we speak truth our speech is to be sound, bearing a meek spirit that exudes the love that God commends toward those unjustified while they are yet sinners. We may have to pronounce declarations of God’s condemnation and damnation of sinners, but it is possible to do so with grace. We are to bless when we are persecuted, bless and curse not. “With grace” is a manner of speech that isn’t deserved and unmerited by the hearers. Speech seasoned with salt carries the offence of the gospel without added offensiveness from the speaker’s speech.
When our speech is assuming, presuming, accusative, categorically stereotyping we dabble with full proof ways that are not winsome. We strive about words to no profit. Our railings, long or short, in verbal conversation or over social media end up putting the soul we are engaging on the defensive. Such unsoundness of speech is easy to be condemned and disrupts the light we intend to communicate from penetrating the dark heart. This arrogant and ignorant speech does not carry the conversation of truth – it does not speak the truth in love.
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” Titus 3:1-2
Paul urges Titus to put the saints “in mind to be subject to principalities”. Subjection to the higher powers doesn’t mean compromise, but subjection does not speak evil nor intreats man ill. This subjection Paul speaks of does not brawl, but is gentle. Meekness is the disposition of mind comprised of the honesty of their spiritual condition and the ungodliness they naturally exercise themselves unto. Meekness never compromises the truth but communicates it with soft temper and with forbearance as a substitute for brawling. Meekness proclaims the gospel boldly but in a gentle way. The gospel may be rejected, but meekness gives birth to a kind of speech that promotes a free course of truth to the dark heart.
Giving Offence or the Offence of the Cross
Lastly, we must recognize that a negative response to the gospel and to the truth of God’s Word isn’t the test of our speech that can be condemned. We are to give no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed, but even when we share truth soundly its light is an offence to the darkened heart. The opposition we experience when we communicate meekly is the offence of the Cross, the offence of truth. How do we know whether one responds in opposition to the truth alone, and not from our ungodly declaration? How do we know we preach Christ and His things “of good will” and not “of envy and strife”? and, what can we do to avoid the latter? Here are a few things to consider in closing:
- Ask, what do I intend to communicate?
- Ask yourself before you start a conversation (in person or over social media), are you holding a false expectation toward an ungodly person that can do nothing more than follow the world, or are you sincerely wanting to shine as a light in the darkness?
- Truth is already personal, but when sharing try not to get personal or in an emotional monologue, but stick to the substance of the truth you intend to communicate.
- Remember your goal is to be winsome, not contentious – the truth will be enough offence to the dark heart.
- If writing, read and reread what you wrote before you publish and hit “send”.
- Although being provocative will grab people’s attention we are not to do so in a contentious manner. When Paul taught or preached, the truth itself was provocative enough. Don’t find yourself with condemned speech before you are able to share what you intended to share.
- Lastly, do not compromise the truth, but substitute speech that can be condemned for sound, gentle, meek speech.
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher