Yesterday we said that while we all receive gifts to use for the body, some are called to equip others for the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20): “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13).
The overall mission for every Christian leader is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. This involves leaders training their flock by serving others by serving alongside their church.
The next two verses give the reason that we must be equipped: “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph 4:14-15).
As we mature as a believer, we aren’t as easily tricked by false teaching. Those who are “no longer children” can stand against lies and deceit. Paul’s analogy of being “tossed to and fro by the waves” sounds like James 1:6, which instructs us to pray in faith without doubting. Jude 1:13 also uses the idea of “wild waves of the sea.” The goal is to avoid being “carried about by every wind of doctrine.” False teaching changes regularly. Those who are immature can easily be fooled into thinking false teaching is accurate.
Another sign of maturity in a Christian is the ability to speak the truth in love. Interestingly, the ability to promote what is right with the right attitude is directly contrasted (“rather”) to being immature and deceived. Immature believers can fall prey to the false choice of speaking truth without love, or speaking love without truth. The first problem promotes legalism; the second problem promotes depravity. God’s command is to grow in maturity, a progression which includes both action and information (Eph 4:11–12).
To speak the truth in love includes how Christians communicate with believers and unbelievers alike. Believers are called to live in harmony with one another as family. With unbelievers, we are told to be ready at all times “to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15).
Unfortunately we all know people who don’t want to hear the truth because it doesn’t fit their narrative. We should still speak the truth in love, letting God’s Spirit work boldly in us and through us to help others come to faith in Christ. Sometimes we can only show our love, by leaving someone alone who only bristles, leaving them in the hands of the Holy Spirit while we fervently pray for them. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet 4:8)
Heavenly Father, I am aware that there are many in the church that are abusing the precious gifts of the Spirit and distorting the Word of truth. Help me to take Your Word into my heart so that I may not sin against You, or follow any false or partially false doctrine instead of Your Word. Lord I ask for daily edification so that I will be prepared for the work You have prepared for me in the body of Christ for Your greater glory. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.