Speak the Truth—Grow the Church

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ

Ephesians 4:14-15 (ESV)

Adolescence is the attitude of modern life for young and old alike. Childish behavior is valued and praised as a positive and worthwhile achievement. The goal is to postpone responsibility as long as possible. Immaturity is prized, and sin is celebrated as a nation of adolescents proceeds headlong over a cliff of unintended consequences. Modern man has forgotten to grow up.

The Apostle Paul was concerned about the Ephesian Christians remaining as “children” in the faith. Like little boats, they were “tossed to and fro by the waves” and by “winds” which blew against them. Like little children, they were easily deceived and led astray by three things (v. 14):

  1. By every wind of doctrine. The wind (anemos) of false doctrine blew violently and with much destructive force. Seldom was untruth’s subtlety challenged.
  2. By human cunning. The word “cunning” (kubeia) means cube or dice. The cunning of men resembled the throwing of the dice in an effort to cheat or defraud others.
  3. By craftiness in deceitful schemes. “Crafty” men are often very competent men, but their methods are ultimately corrupt.

The manifestations of human sin are seen in attacks through the words and actions of others. At no time are Christians protected from strange and false teaching. Their response, however, must not be one of accommodation, but confrontation. They are to speak the truth in love. Christians are marked by an eagerness to tell the truth and point out the errors in belief systems, because they truly love others. Love in no way mandates silence or an acceptance of youthful errors. Far too often, the Church has failed to correct the craftiness and cunning of sinful men. The distinguishing marks of the Church should be that her members are plain speaking, solid in their convictions, and willing to expose error.

A church’s success is often defined by how nice it is perceived to be. Some church growth theories deemphasize confrontation—especially over doctrine. Confrontation is seen as unloving and is to be avoided at all cost. Christian maturity is defined, however, in terms of correcting errors by courageously speaking the truth in love.