December 13, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 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. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Growing up in a family of four children, there were times when my siblings and I would throw selfish fits. Perhaps we had to share our toys and didn’t want to. Or maybe one of us was ruthlessly teasing another. If one of my siblings and I were bawling about some petty injustice, we would often hear a familiar refrain, “Don’t be a baby!”
We read something like this in Ephesians 4:14, though the context is different and the language is less confrontational. This verse says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” “Then” ties this verse to what has gone immediately before, the growing up of the body of Christ to unity and maturity.
It is striking, however, that verse 14 does not continue to speak about the growth of the body of Christ as a single unit. Rather, the use of the plural, “infants,” shifts the focus to the individual members who make up the body. Thus, we see once again that Christian growth is not either individual or corporate. Rather, it is both, and both elements are necessary for the other.
Let’s pause for a moment to consider the implications of this truth for our lives. If the church is to be what God intends it to be, then, not only are you and I to be equipped for the ministry of building up the body, but also you and I have a responsibility to grow up as individual members. To be sure, individual growth enriches our own personal lives and glorifies God. But it also contributes essentially to the growth of the body of Christ.
Thus, don’t be a spiritual “baby,” not only for your own sake, but also for the sake of the body of Christ. As you grow up in Christ, so will your church.
Something to Think About:
Are you growing up as a Christian? If so, how is this happening?
If not, what hampers your growth?
Are you more mature in Christ today than you were a year ago? Five years ago?
Something to Do:
Think of one way in which you are more mature in Christ today than you were a few years ago. Give thanks to God for this growth.
Gracious God, thank you for giving me new birth through Jesus Christ. Thank you for designing me so that I can grow up in you, even as I have grown up physically. Thank you for the clear call of Ephesians 4:14 to not be a baby.
Help me, Lord, to see myself clearly, to be grateful for ways I have grown up in you. May I also recognize and confess where I am still immature. Help me to leave my infancy behind so that I might be mature in you, thus contributing to the growth and maturity of your body. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Play Games for God?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Thanks, Walter, for your encouragement.