Speaking the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ is not the poke in the eye as we so often see it today. If we allow it the Word of God will knit us together in unity. But when a person allows the Devil to use him to poke other fellow Christians in the eye or create different doctrines of separation they are actually allowing their flesh to rule their own spirit.
Ephesians 4: 15 & 16, 15, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
We should all grow together. That may not sound profound to you, but when you realize that the unity of the church is where its true strength lies, then you will recognize that the church is like a chain; it is only as strong as its weakest link. Knowledge of the Word of God is good, but without wisdom and understanding, the ability to speak the truth with love is not present. Sure we can see our brother in the Lord stumble and more often than not we will point out his sin to him and probably tell others in the process. We need to look at ourselves first. (Matthew 7:3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?) I recently heard a very good pastor visiting the US from Nigeria tell the church he was visiting, that America was not in a financial recession, but a spiritual recession which started in the pulpits. I wish I could argue with him, but knowing firsthand what I have heard from so many different preachers over the years, his words both hurt and made since. This is all the more reason I encourage people to study the word for themselves, and not just in the same context it was preached from the pulpit. Our study is not to argue with what was preached, but to understand the truth for ourselves. We must remember that all of us are broken clay vessels, pastors included. We all carry pressures of life around in us, and often pastor’s fall into the thinking that they cannot confide in or even go to be refreshed by another pastor. We can only grow up together by refilling our spiritual tanks daily. We can look at Americans and see that we do not miss many meals, but will miss church several times a week, and only carry the bible to church with little reading of it for ourselves.
Jesus paid a high price for our salvation and wants His church to grow up and be a light to the world. A light of hope and not the spotlight or beacon pointing out the faults of others. Remember Paul tells us in Romans 2:4 "that the goodness of God draws us to repentance". As Christians have lost some of our spiritual glimmer and replaced it with worldly glitter? The light of the church has not gone out and we can become that light again by fulfilling verse 16. We must first recognize that we are all one with Christ. What we bring to the table, so to speak, either builds up or pulls down the people at that table. Every Christian supplies the church, the Body of Christ, with something. If we bring in doubt, despair, anger, mocking, or any other sin into the church, than that is what we are supplying; ouch! However, even if we are stumbling in any of these areas, but bring in a heart’s desire to learn and grow up in the Lord, than we actually become partners with Jesus Christ as we allow His gospel to strengthen us. Unfortunately not every preacher is preaching the gospel, but a hybrid mix of gospel, and religious doctrine. But a truly Spirit filled pastor, who understands their purpose as a servant to their congregation, will always purpose to bring the pure gospel of the Word of God to the church and in their delivery they are handing it to us with love and encouragement. Think about this; if I hand something heavy to you, at the furthest point from my body is when I am in the greatest physical strain. If you do not reach out to receive it I hold all of the weight and the strain on me increases greatly, but if you reach out to take it from me then at that point we are joining our strength for a single purpose. As you pull it to yourself than I am freed up to pick up more and hand you more. The same works in a church, you’re choosing to receive the preached word and go study it for yourself is partnering with the pastor. Only by growing up in the Lord can we truly encourage each other. In Ephesians 5:21, Paul tells us to submit to each other. He is not telling us to put ourselves in submissive positions to one another, but rather to share our hearts with each other so that we may pray for one another, encourage from one another, and build each other up in Christ by what each of us supplies. The more of God’s Word and understanding is in you, the more you can build up your brother in Christ Jesus. The body can only grow with what “each” member supplies. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 is a beautiful word picture of how the body of Christ supports and grows together. 1 Corinthians 13 is called the love chapter in that it teaches us that anything done without love is actually nothing at all. By building up our knowledge in the Word and asking the Holy Spirit to help us in both wisdom and understanding, we can learn to walk in the love toward each other, the same love God has for us. And if we can learn to walk in love toward each other, then we are better prepared to walk in love toward our fellow man who is not a Christian, and by doing so we can then show them the goodness of God which leads them to repentance.
Final thought, as Christians we are actually called to be in a co-mission with Jesus Christ which means we are actually "the salesman", and not "the lawman" who arrests people for what he sees like a modern day Pherasee, nor "the Judge who is God".
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