Healthy and Growing and Full of Love – Ephesians 4:1-16

Ephesians Bible Study Lent calledforsuchatime.comTherefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

7However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. 8That is why the Scriptures say,

“When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”

9Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. 10And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

11Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Therefore!

As a young person, I was taught that when you see a “therefore” in scripture, you must go back and figure out what it’s “there for.”  In this case, as we look at the book of Ephesians as a whole, we can see that this first word of Chapter 4 is a huge “Therefore”!  Paul has just spent 3 chapters telling us all about what unimaginable riches we have been given in Christ, and why.  Now, Paul is shifting to begin to tell us how to apply all this knowledge.  How do we live in light of who we are and with all these blessings?  How do we lead our lives? 

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling.

In the following chapters Paul will tell us how to walk personally, how we should walk in friendships, marriages, parenting, and work relationships, and finally, how we deal with Satan. 

But first, he begins by teaching us how to walk as the body of Christ.  I believe this is an important point.  First, we are His body.  Even before we are husbands or wives, parents, or employees, we are members of the body of Christ.  This shouldn’t come last and only on Sundays.  Leading a life worthy of our calling in Christ in all areas should have its foundation in the fact that we are the Church.  This should be where we learn and grow and are encouraged and built up, so that all our other relationships reflect what we are learning.  As I’m sure you realize, I am not speaking here about only our local church bodies.  We are talking THE Church.  Christ’s one body.  His bride.  Each of us is a vital part of this body.

LOVE

First, a little instruction on how we are to conduct ourselves.  We love each other.  Love is paramount to the body of Christ. 

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:14

Christians are not perfect people.  As imperfect people who love each other, walking this life together as Christ’s body, we must always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

For further detail on what love looks like, check out 1 Corinthians 13. 

UNITY

We come next to Paul’s exhortation for unity in the body of Christ, and more specifically, the difference between unity of Spirit and unity of faith. 

3Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit

The fact that Paul says we must keep ourselves united in the Spirit indicates that we already have unity of the Spirit.  “There is one church” was the mantra of our home church back in the U.S. and I believe it echoes this truth.  We, as believers in Jesus, have the same Spirit of God living in each one of us.  We believe in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and the glorious hope for the future – all the core doctrines that make us Christians. This unity is something that is given to us as we enter the family of God, I believe.  And this is what we must make every effort to keep.  We are a family! 

Jumping down to v. 13 (after Paul describes the 5-fold ministry given by Christ to the church):

 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Unity of the Spirit has to do with what we are all given at salvation, as we enter into the body of Christ, as we become part of the family of believers.  Unity of the faith has to do with the end result of what we are all learning as we grow in our knowledge of God and our experiences with Him.  I believe that the body of Christ suffers because we elevate the importance of unity of faith above unity of the Spirit.  We should love each other above all else, bind ourselves together in peace, protect one another, and celebrate the fact that we are one body. 

If we disagree on issues of faith, it should not bring division, but rather should drive each of us to seek God more deeply and to trust the Holy Spirit working in each other as we all grow to maturity.  We can and should serve the Lord together, even if we don’t agree on every facet of doctrine.  If you are like me, you know that in any family there are things individuals disagree on.  There is usually a crazy uncle or a cantankerous old granny or an opinionated sibling with whom we struggle.  Because we are family, we love and protect each other despite our differences.  It should be the same within the body of Christ.

I believe we are each growing in different ways, at different times, as God brings us along in our faith.  That’s why we need each other.  There is something that I can learn from you, and something you can learn from me as we are all walking this journey with the Lord.  That’s the body.  That’s making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit as we all grow in unity of the faith.   

SPECIAL GIFTS

To help us grow to maturity in Christ, God has given each of us special gifts, special grace!  Did you catch the “each one”?  That means you!  No one is passed over in the giving of gifts.  And there are many gifts.  Some are given as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  These are not necessarily just the guys who are standing up in front and leading services on Sunday mornings.  These people are found throughout the body.  Their job is to equip God’s people for works of service for the building up of the body.  And they will continue this equipping until we all reach maturity in Christ. 

14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church

That is where I want to be – growing in every way more and more like Christ!  We need each other, to benefit from the gifts God has given within the Church, to get there.   

16He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow

This is very exciting to me!  My prayer is that each of you will understand how vital you are to the body of Christ.  Each person has a part, a special work, and each one is needed to help the other parts grow.  There is no part that is dispensable.  No part that can be done without.  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly!  If you’re unsure of what your gifting is, ask God to show you, and ask others what they see in you.  Also, resist the temptation to compare your gift to someone else’s.  God has designed each of us exactly as He meant to, for the benefit of the whole body and for His glory. 

15Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:15-20

It is thrilling to me to think of the body of Christ living and functioning as it should.  It is overwhelming to think that God designed and created us in such a way that we will help each other grow into the fullness of Christ.  We are a body, a family, and God’s promise through Paul is that when we live in this way the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

 What about you? 

Do you believe that you are a vital part of the body of Christ? 

Are you in a community of believers that is healthy and growing and full of love?

Do you understand the gifts that God has given you and how to walk in them?

Have you cut yourself off from other believers based on unity of faith differences? 

What has God been teaching you that you can share to help others grow in their faith? 

My prayer is that we will each begin to grasp more and more clearly how God has created us to fit into His body!  

Live Free. Live Loved.

~Kerri

 

 

 

 

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Kerri is flawed and completely imperfect, but so in love with her perfect and supremely good God! She is the wife of Brent and mom to 5 amazing, crazy beautiful kids! After spending 7 years on the mission field in Zambia, Africa, her family has settled back in their hometown of Columbia, SC., and is still forging through the whirlwind of re-entry to the First World! On any continent, home is where her heart is, and her passion is for foundations and families. She is a "singy person" who is lives, learns, and leads through music (except twangy old country and death metal - sorry). She has issues with certain words and sounds, so please refrain from using the word "nugget" or smacking while you eat!

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