“Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
Paul starts this section with the word ‘then’. So we need to do a little review here. He begins this chapter by telling us we need to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received. He tells us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. And he tells us that grace has been given to us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Once we realize all these things, he starts on this portion.
Paul says we will no longer be little children. Let’s take a minute here. Didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 18:3-4, “’Truly I tell you’, he said, ‘unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven?’” We clearly see the answer in the next verse. Jesus goes on to say, “’Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child- this one is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’” Jesus is talking about a humble, child-like heart. That is not what Paul is writing about here. Paul goes on to describe what he means. He says, “tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” One of the characteristics of children is their short attention span. They jump from one idea to another. The same can be said of immature Christians. They jump from one fad doctrine to another. I was looking up some of these online, and it brought back some memories. Remember the end time predictions of the 70s and 80s? I remember reading Hal Lindsay and thinking that we wouldn’t make it to the 21st century. Many lives were destroyed with the repressed memories and satanic cult fad of the 90s which was later disproved. False accusations against family members, pastors, and daycare workers destroyed many lives. Then there was the whole Y2K debacle. Today we have progressive Christianity which teaches that Jesus is only one path to God. My point is that Paul was writing about this over 2000 years ago! In Colossians he writes, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
In order not to be tossed around by the sea, we need to have an anchor. We need to be anchored in the Word of God. I love Jesus’ parable about the wise man who built his house on the rock. He says that those who hear his words and act on them will be like that man. When the storms come (and they will) the house will stand firm. Psalm 1 describes a person who meditates on God’s Word as a tree planted by flowing streams that bear fruit. They are rooted. That person doesn’t jump from one false teaching to another. The only way to do that is to know the Word of God. It is so important to know the truth so that when someone tells you a half-truth you don’t fall for it wholeheartedly.
Paul goes on to say, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head- Christ.” We need the balance, both truth and love. We have those who will speak the truth. They are outspoken. We see them online. We see them on the news. They tell it like it is. They call out the deception in the world and all the craziness that is happening. But they are not doing it from a place of love. Then we have the opposite. We have Christians today who are so determined to show love that they sacrifice central truths of scripture. They affirm sins that go directly against God’s commands. John Stott writes, “The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself the Spirit of truth, and the first of his fruits is ‘love’.”
Paul again uses the analogy of a human body. We are to grow together in truth and love. The end goal for all of us is maturity as believers. Ray Stedman said in his sermon on this passage, “He is talking about becoming like Christ by obeying him, appropriating him. Not by hearing, but by doing. That is always the emphasis of scripture.” James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.”
This growth is an ongoing process. He uses the phrases ‘promotes the growth’ and ‘building up itself’. But maturity doesn’t happen overnight! We live in an instant gratification society. We live in a world where we can teach ourselves just about anything in a short time on the Internet. But we can’t make our bodies grow any faster. And we can’t obtain Christian maturity in one week. Or even one year. It’s an ongoing, lifetime process. That is why in 1 Timothy, Paul says that the pastor or overseer must not be a new convert. In Titus, Paul encourages the older women to teach the younger women. He knows that the mature believers must mentor the younger believers.
This leads to my last point. We are designed to be in community. When Paul describes the body, he talks about it working because each individual part works properly. We can’t do this if we are jumping from church to church. We can’t do this if we disappear into a mega-church every Sunday where nobody knows our name and we leave as soon as the sermon is over. And we can’t do this if we only attend online. We need to be part of a body of believers. We need them and they need us. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 describes the church as the body. Romans 12:4-5 is another passage that says there are many parts but one body. Colossians 1:18 says Christ is the head of the body. It is so important to be plugged in to a Bible-teaching local body of believers.
I will end with this verse. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Grace be with you!