February 26 I Saturday
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” —Ephesians 4:15-16
The fifth stage Paul talks about for the making of a healthy, fruitful church is for every member to be built up in love and working together in love. There are three aspects Paul brings to the forefront in this last stage. Firstly, Christ is the head of His church. That which is true in doctrine always moves us closer to Christ, into more Christ-likeness and into greater Christ-like dependence, which is what it means for Christ to be the Head. Every manifestation of the Holy Spirit will contribute to Christ-likeness and be totally consistent with biblical doctrine.
Secondly, we are built up in love. We do not divide between those who agree with us and those who do not. The church ministers to the world in all conditions of life, regardless of faith. Whenever the New Testament speaks about spiritual gifts, it always does so in the context of love. Paul writes, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). God is love, and the way we minister to the world derives from the love of Christ within us.
Thirdly, each supporting ligament of the body does its part. Every member of the body of Christ is needed. Paul talks more fully about this in 1 Corinthians 12 when he writes, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (12:21). As we work together, we grow together.
In summary, we recognize that Christ gives leadership gifts to the church for the purpose of teaching and equipping us for works of service. As we engage in service, we are being built up, reaching unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ. Then, says Paul, we will no longer be like infants, tossed about by every wind and wave of teaching, but grow up into Christ, who is the Head. We all do our part, supporting and encouraging one another in love as we minister in love. Understanding what the Word of God teaches is vital as the basis on which we move, think and structure ourselves in order that we might be a healthy, fruitful church.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the incredible gift of Your church. May we all grow and work together, bringing others into relationship with You. In Your name, amen!