Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (NIV)
Just imagine living in a society where you could literally believe nobody. Relationships could not be sustained for long. Things would fall apart. Which is why Paul urges us to speak the truth to one another. Falsehood disrupts and even destroys community.
We might pride ourselves on not spreading falsehood. But things aren’t quite as simple as that. Christians, like others, can be prone to exaggeration. Embellishing statistics, overstating a threat, spreading alarmist news that turn out to be old hoaxes recycled. One doing the rounds now is the imminent execution of 22 Christians in Afghanistan. An old story dating from over 10 years ago whose truth has never been verified.
Of course, Christians are in danger and we are called to pray for them. But falsehoods spread as fact are not the right foundations for prayer. If we are gullible enough to believe all that comes our way, then we are succumbing to falsehood and our prayer energies are being misdirected. We hear stories from people we trust, but where have they got their stories from? Origins of these falsehoods are hard to trace.
Careless exaggeration, gullible acceptance of each and every alarmist message that comes our way, harms our Christian community. It is the truth that sets us free, not our own imaginations or our fears. We are exposed to so much falsehood whether deliberate or accidental, whether by governments or by individuals. Let’s not add to the problem.