Wednesday, 14 September 2016
…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Ephesians 4:15
Paul begins the verse with a word here translated as “but.” It is given to contrast the equipping of the saints in order to keep them from being children who are tossed to and fro by all kinds of false, cunning, and deceitful teachings. Instead of such things, sound instructors of the word are always to be “speaking the truth in love.” This thought comes from a single Greek word which is used only here and in Galatians 4:16.
It is used in classical Greek with a full meaning of “to be true, to arrive at truth, and to speak truth” (Vincent’s Word Studies). HELPS Word Studies tells the Christian that it “includes Spirit-led confrontation where it is vital to tell the truth so others can live in God’s reality rather than personal illusion.” All teachers of the word are to speak only in truth. They are never to waffle in their proclamation or their convictions concerning what God’s word states.
However, Paul gives an extra precept for them to follow. They are to speak “the truth in love.” One can speak the truth bluntly and with force. The tone can be disgusted or crabby. In this, the truth is spoken, but it can actually produce a harmful reaction in the hearer. It is true that people who do not receive Jesus are going to hell, but to stand on a street corner as an evangelist and to condemn all those who don’t believe to this sad fate in a demeaning and arrogant way will only lead them further from Christ. It is unfortunate that so many teachers follow this abrupt and demeaning path. The very thing they should be doing, which is leading people to Christ, is the very thing they fail to do.
Paul never waffled in his doctrine, and yet when he confronted another who was not following the truth, he did it in a firm yet loving way. A good example of this is found in Galatians 2:11-21. Peter was failing in sound doctrine, and Paul corrected him without demeaning him in any way. He spoke in love. Such an approach is proper so that those who hear “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
This idea is contrasted to that of the previous verse. There he spoke of the state of believers as “children;” a term used in a negative way. Here he speaks of believers who are given the truth in love as those who “grow up.” There is to be a process where believers mature in order to become sound, effective members of the body. In doing so, they will be sound “in all things into Him who is the head.”
This is to be the goal of our Christian life, and so it is sad to see how few actually avail themselves of it. Such a large percentage of believers are content to live their lives in spiritual immaturity. Paul tells us that in order to be sound in Christ, we are to mature in Christ. It is an exhortation which we ignore at our own peril. Without growth, we will be unprepared for what transpires when trials, doctrinal issues, and false teachers come our way.
Life application: Have you called on Christ? There is a lot you need to know. Don’t get stuck on one subject and spend your whole Christian life stuck in that box. Rather, take in the whole counsel of God and pursue Him and His word all your days. Be an effective member of His body.
Lord God, heavenly Father, Your word asks us to speak the truth in love. We can’t speak the truth if we don’t know it. And we won’t speak the truth if we are not grounded in it. It is so easy to waffle in our convictions when faced with difficult issues. Is Jesus the only way to be reconciled to You? “Ummm, errrr, I…. I don’t want to offend.” How ridiculous we are to care about offense! Your word is truth. Now help us to not be shy in proclaiming it, but give us the right reason to speak it in love. With this, You will surely be pleased. Amen.