Theology isn't about knowing more. It's about being more...being more like Christ.

July 6, 2021

Speaking the Truth in Love: Ephesians 4:13-16

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being biblical and being Christ-like. There seems to be no end to “biblical” ideas, supposedly supported by scripture as studied by people who supposedly love God, but seem to be lacking in basic qualities that remind me of Jesus.

These ideas speak truth, or a version of the truth, without love. Devoid of grace, mercy, or vision for future relationships. These “biblical” ideas often serve to keep people in their place, in the margins, away from the blessings of kingdom life now and for eternity.

The context for this verse, however, isn’t about people getting to do a big cosmic “boo-yah” when their theology trumps yours. This isn’t Paul telling people how to win debates, arguments, or Twitter rants.

Rather, the context of this instruction, “speak the truth in love” is about a dynamic, growing Christian community committed to being like Christ, committed to the mutual flourishing of each individual person.

Earlier in the passage, Paul explains that God has given spiritual gifts to believers in the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for building up the body of Christ...until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (4:12). Note that the gifts aren’t so those individuals can be celebrities or individual success stories. The gifts are given (broadly I might add, but that’s for a future post) so that ALL of the people can experience unifying faith, knowledge of God that is beyond intellectual assent, AND that all the people in the church would be mature and like Christ.

In short, spiritual gifts are given so that everyone in the church can flourish spiritually.

It is in THIS context that Paul cautions that “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” and instead…

Speak the truth in love.

So that the entire body can grow and be healthy. Every single part.

Speaking the truth in love assumes a positive vision that you have a place here, in the community, that you want to have. It is saying, I know you, you have gifts and contributions to make in this community, and because I know you and love you as a brother or sister in Christ, I want to remind you of the truth that deep down, you want to cling to.

Speaking the truth in love is brave and hopeful. It is a vehicle for reconciling broken relationships. It is a way to help guard each individual and the whole community from crafty deceitful schemes that sound good, they may even sound “biblical”, but they aren’t Christ like.

Speaking the truth in love is the calisthenics of Christian community. It is the way we continue to grow and strengthen one another, so that one part does not get injured, broken, or disabled in the race that is life. It’s like spiritual jumping jacks: it is something we can all practice, you don’t have to have special athletic gifting to do it. No matter what gift you have been given to build up the body of Christ, you can add to that service the consistent practice of speaking the truth in love.

Speaking the truth in love will be, at its core, biblical, but more predominantly so, it will be like Christ.


to my random, infrequent, but trying to honor Christ in everything thoughts :)

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