Paul invites us to see ourselves, the church, as the body of Christ, which grows to maturity through living and speaking truth in love to one another.
15 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.
In Eph. 4:11-16, Paul pictures the church as a human body: many different parts which are joined and held together as one united whole. A body which, when each part (each person) is working properly, builds itself up in love.
The human body is so intricately and marvellously made by God (Ps. 139:13-14), and the way it grows and sustains its own life (with God’s enabling grace) day to day, often in microscopic ways we don’t even see or realise – a 7.8-billion-fold testament to the goodness of God’s design and his sustaining grace. In this picture of the body, the church walks in the very footsteps of our Saviour, who took on a human body just like ours, and who grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52). The church as the body of Chris is such a rich image, and so worthy of our meditation.
How does the body of Christ grow to maturity? Paul says: by “speaking the truth in love.” This speaking of truth in love is how we grow in every respect to maturity in Christ. It’s at the very heart of our life together as his people.
This is directly contrasted to Paul’s words in verse 14 – that we are no longer to be children, failing to grow to maturity. And we fail to grow to maturity when we are thrown about by the wind and waves of every false doctrine and by human cunning and craftiness. Thus, it makes sense that truth is at the heart of how we grow to maturity. Maturity means we need to stand firm upon the truth of Scripture, the truth of the gospel of Christ. To stand firm upon truth means we need to know truth. We need to know God’s word – to trust it, and to build our lives upon it. To be trained by it in discernment and wisdom for life. We need habits of reading it, listening to it, digesting it, speaking it to one another, and showing its very truthfulness in how we live.
I’m always struck by the little insight that the literal translation of this verse is not so much “speaking truth in love” as it is “truthing in love.” (We just don’t have a verb for “truth” in English!) So, Paul certainly has speaking the truth in love to one another – after all, our God highly values words! – but it absolutely doesn’t end there… We are to live truth in love to one another in every way… in our words, our habits, our service, our choices. To show one another, and the watching world, that we trust God as our source of foundational truth and the one who has loved us in Christ beyond all reason and imagination. And thus to show that we long and seek to embody his truth and love as the body of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we consistently seek the good of our brothers and sisters… to love them and build up their faith through habit-formed words and deeds of gospel truth, and to invite the same thing from them in return, that we might all grow to maturity in Christ – for his glory and our immeasurable joy.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, how good you are to us! Thank you for saving us through the great sacrifice of your Son Jesus… and for declaring us your children and knitting us together as your body. Help me to love and stand upon your Word, that I might embody your truth and your love to my brothers and sisters, in seeking to build up their faith in you, by all means possible. For your glory. Amen.
A song to listen to: Speak, O Lord Keith and Kristyn Getty
Living Church – Springfield