Truth and Love
“Rather, speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:15-16
Our last study ended with comments on what we might call the “dark side” of modern Christianity – its lack of concern for sound doctrine and obsession with self-interest. Here, we return to look positively at what the church should be doing as it seeks to become mature.
Paul puts it this way: “Rather [that is, instead of being tossed about by every wind of doctrine and deceived by the cunning craftiness of men], speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15).
In these words, Paul is no longer talking about the specific task of shepherds and teachers but the conduct of Christians in general. Having been equipped for their works of ministry (v. 12), and stabilised against the errors of deceivers (v. 14), members of the body of Christ are to be constantly engaged in “speaking the truth in love to one another.” They are to share with each other what they learn of Christ in their personal and family lives, in their reading, study, conferences etc., always doing so with a view to encouraging and strengthening one another. That is always the goal – seeing people know and grow up into the Lord Jesus Christ “in every way” through the truth spoken in love.
When that happens, the body (of Christ) begins to build itself up. It does so because as people come to know Christ better and become more like him, they receive more grace from him. He is the “head” of the body and the one from whom all growth comes. When people are relating properly to him, they begin to function as they are meant to in the body. And when that happens, growth results. “The whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped when each part is working properly… builds itself up in love” (v. 16).
What a beautiful picture this is. Again, we need to note the importance of “truth” in this process. The body of Christ doesn’t grow and mature simply by people being nice to each other, or being “fun to be with.” Rather, it grows through the truth spoken and heard. That’s because our character is shaped by what we know and accept as truth. Truth forms convictions, discernment, and understanding. And that, in turn, enables us to act in ways towards others that are mutually beneficial and build up the church.
Paul alludes to this very thing in the opening part of his letter to the Philippians. “And it is my prayer,” he tells them, “that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
Truth and love mixed generously together are the diet upon which the church builds itself up.
- Do you like to share what the Lord has been teaching you with others?
- Is it possible to speak the truth without doing so in love?
– Andrew Young