Dur­ing a recent bible study, we were read­ing through Eph­esians 4. I real­ly love this pas­sage because of the prac­ti­cal steps it gives to build up the Body of Christ. I thought I’d write a sort of com­men­tary on the pas­sage, which I think goes along with Shammah’s excel­lent post on exhor­ta­tion.

And He gave some as apos­tles, and some as prophets, and some as evan­ge­lists, and some as pas­tors and teach­ers, for the equip­ping of the saints for the work of ser­vice, to the build­ing up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the uni­ty of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the mea­sure of the stature which belongs to the full­ness of Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be chil­dren, tossed here and there by waves and car­ried about by every wind of doc­trine, by the trick­ery of men, by crafti­ness in deceit­ful schem­ing; but speak­ing the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fit­ted and held togeth­er by what every joint sup­plies, accord­ing to the prop­er work­ing of each indi­vid­ual part, caus­es the growth of the body for the build­ing up of itself in love.”

Eph­esians 4:11–16

Shammah had start­ed the study off by com­ment­ing that this whole chap­ter real­ly illus­trates just how impor­tant talk­ing is, and I total­ly agree with him. In fact, I think that this pas­sage holds pret­ty clear guide­lines which, if prac­ticed, will bring about the fruit which Paul is urg­ing the Eph­esians to work towards; the uni­ty of the Spir­it and the bond of Peace.

That secret is talk­ing. Not just sim­ple talk­ing such as con­ver­sa­tion, but speak­ing the truth in love.

The chap­ter starts off with Paul urg­ing the Eph­esians to:

…walk in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing with which you have been called, with all humil­i­ty and gen­tle­ness, with patience, show­ing tol­er­ence for one anoth­er in love, being dili­gent to pre­serve the uni­ty of the Spir­it and the bond of peace.”

The humil­i­ty, gen­tle­ness, and tol­er­ance this verse is speak­ing of isn’t rec­om­mend­ing that we ‘keep to our­selves’ to keep peace. While I do believe that being hum­ble qui­et and tol­er­at­ing in love are impor­tant things to prac­tice, I don’t think keep­ing to our­selves is good prac­tice at all. I’m sure that’s not what Paul’s want­i­ng, either, oth­er­wise he wouldn’t have writ­ten in Hebrews 3:13:

…but exhort one anoth­er dai­ly, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hard­ened through the deceit­ful­ness of sin.”

The fact is, we can’t live in a way of pre­serv­ing the uni­ty of the Spir­it and the bond of peace with­out speak­ing the truth in love. Life togeth­er (and I’m not just talk­ing about a cor­po­rate, com­mu­nal life togeth­er like we’re liv­ing) brings up issues and prob­lems with each oth­er, and to pre­serve uni­ty, those need to be worked through, not stuffed away and ignored. Ignor­ing them just caus­es the issues to fes­ter, bring­ing divi­sion, not uni­ty.

Talk­ing can be very uncom­fort­able. It’s easy to make excus­es for our­selves (“I’m non-con­fronta­tion­al”), or to think we need to leave it up to oth­ers to do, espe­cial­ly “those in charge”, whether pas­tors, elders, lead­ers, what­ev­er.

Look at vers­es 11 and 12 again:

And He gave some as apos­tles, and some as prophets, and some as evan­ge­lists, and some as pas­tors and teach­ers, for the equip­ping of the saints for the work of ser­vice, to the build­ing up of the body of Christ;”

Yes, these peo­ple are sup­posed to be talk­ing to the Body, exhort­ing and instruct­ing them. But their job is to equip the saints for the work of ser­vice, through which the body of Christ will be built up to be like him.

So, what is the work of ser­vice it’s speak­ing of?

…but speak­ing the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,”

That’s how we’re sup­posed to grow, by encour­ag­ing and exhort­ing each oth­er in love, so that God can speak into each other’s lives:

…from whom the whole body, being fit­ted and held togeth­er by what every joint sup­plies, accord­ing to the prop­er work­ing of each indi­vid­ual part, caus­es the growth of the body for the build­ing up of itself in love.”

It is Christ who sup­plies that life which caus­es the Body to grow, but that life flows through the Body through the joints, which fit and hold it togeth­er. A friend made a com­ment recent­ly that the joints are not nec­es­sar­i­ly a part of the body, but the con­nec­tions between parts of the body. Those joints, the con­nec­tions, are the rela­tion­ships between us, the mem­bers of the Body. If each indi­vid­ual part is doing their prop­er work (main­tain­ing the uni­ty of the Spir­it and the bond of peace through speak­ing the truth in love), those rela­tion­ships are cre­at­ed, main­tained, and increased. And the Body builds itself in love.

Mod­ern Chris­tian­i­ty is very min­istry-ori­ent­ed nowa­days. Every­body seems to be striv­ing to be in that first list, the apos­tles, prophets, evan­ge­lists, pas­tors, teach­ers, etc. But we eas­i­ly miss that the bulk of the “work of ser­vice” in the body of Christ is to be car­ried out by the “ordi­nary” saints, in ordi­nary, every-day life sit­u­a­tions. True min­istry is tak­ing care of the Body. So let’s speak the truth to each oth­er.

3 thoughts on “The importance of talking

  1. Thanks David

    We all need this writ­ten out and put on our wall.
    Talk­ing some­times can be so com­plex.
    Nev­er easy, but so need­ed.

  2. That is clear — and such a good way to live! If we could hold onto each oth­er close­ly through it all — we’ll get all the way through to Christ. Keep going!

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