Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
(Ephesians 4:15-16 – ESV)
(Ephesians 4:15-16 – ESV)
Truth in love – this is not so much a balance here as it is a package. We must have both. Of course, the “truth” part can be easier than the “in love” part to ascertain. Too often people want to define the “in love” part so as to mean non-offensive or non-confrontational but if that were the case this “speaking”, for correction, wouldn’t need to happen (cf. Galatians 2:11-14 / 2 Timothy 2:2, 25-26 / Titus 1:9-16, Titus 2). Of course some people will tell you that you are being hurtful even when you are doing it right (Galatians 4:16). In love doesn’t mean weakly it means real concern for real connection, for true spiritual growth. To speak the truth in love you must be in love with the truth.
People think that the love here means humility. Yes, real, biblical humility is an integral part of holiness, which is true love. As we become more holy, practically speaking, we should be becoming more humble and loving (Philippians 2:1-15). However, humility doesn’t make something more or less true, it only tends to makes the connection better, but a false humility can lead to serious danger (Colossians 2:18-19). If we are centered on and around Christ and learning the truth we will be growing up and each part will be equipped for its role, knowing its role and the whole body functioning properly.
The context of all this is spiritually gifted people helping us to become of one mind towards Christ and so therefore growing up together as a unit in Him. All of our gifts should help protect us from being swept away by every wind of doctrine. This happens when we are forgiving one another yet holding each other accountable, not to punish but to grow, and we need everyone on board for that to happen to its full capacity. This is also why it is so clearly evident in the New Testament that there are no such things as maverick Christians who aren’t a vital part of a local body or those who think they can just jump around, because they have no real accountability and they have no real growth, not in the way Paul is describing it here. It doesn’t work that way; that would be you believing a lie about your spiritual growth. When you are away from this truth you are stunting your growth and the growth of others. It isn’t just “oh yeah, I can grow all by myself”, what about the others you are supposed to be connected with? We are to grow up into Christ, He is the head, and in the revelation of Him, the bible, that is where the truth is. The bible teaches that committed, connected fellowship is vital for the believer.