Summary: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the ’body language’ that must be spoken in love, for the lost to be saved.(#16 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
I want to extract from this passage just one phrase today, and let’s focus entirely on what it is exhorting us to do. “…speaking the truth in love…”
It is one phrase in the middle of a sentence, but an understanding of it, I think, will help us better comprehend the rest of what Paul is saying in these verses.
First though, let me make a clarification that will be important to our grasp of this phrase.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a sermon he preached sometime in the 1970’s, noted that this phrase, “speaking the truth in love” had, at that time, been ‘wrested out of context’, and ‘turned into a slogan’. Those who were advocating a World Church, and insisting that true Christianity was mimicking Christ and behaving well and that sound doctrinal teaching was out of place because the masses don‘t understand it and don‘t want to hear it, were using this one phrase entirely out of context, to assert that it is ‘speaking the truth in love’ to one another that establishes and fortifies unity in the body of Christ, and that wins the world for Him.
This philosophy goes contrary to the scriptural meaning of ‘unity’, and the inspired usage of the phrase as it is seen in its context.
So we’re going to be careful today, to avoid that snare; and the best way to do that is to keep the phrase in the context of the passage, reminding ourselves as we go that unity in the church is not maintained by turning ourselves into flower-children and always saying nice and kind and helpful things to one another, and being tolerant of everything, and being careful never to offend with our words.
Let’s talk first about
Now I will not attempt to enter into a word study here, but there are a couple of things I should bring to your attention. There are 10 different Greek words in the New Testament, that we translate ‘speaking’. I didn’t even check other English forms of the word, such as ‘speak’ or ‘spoken’ and so forth. Just ‘speaking’. And the Greeks used a minimum of ten different words for it, depending on what type of ‘speaking’ was going on. They were very specific.
For example, I might simply say to an interrupting child, “I‘m speaking here…”. That would be one Greek word; but if we’re talking about someone giving a speech before a large gathering, that’s a different word, even though we might say, “He’s speaking at the lodge this evening”.
Sometimes I think there would be a lot less misunderstanding in our society, if our language was that verbose so as to be extremely specific. On the other hand, in our day and age it might only cause more confusion.
I ran across something a couple of weeks ago that tickled me. It’s called an “Instant Buzzword Generator”. It was developed to give you ‘an impressive lingo‘; is the way it was introduced. It goes like this. There are about 9 columns of words. You keep the list handy, or if you’re able, memorize it.
Then when preparing a speech, or getting ready for an interview or some other important meeting, you take a word from two or three columns, join them together, and even though you’ve created a phrase that means absolutely nothing, it sounds impressive.
Example: In column one we have ‘total’, ‘organizational’ and ‘flexibility’.
Way down in column 7 we have ‘synchronized’ ‘incremental’ and ‘projection’
In column 9 are the words, ‘balanced’ ‘policy’ and contingency’.
So you can pick any words from these columns, join them together as a phrase, and just toss them around to impress.
“Back at the home office we’ve implemented ‘total incremental contingency’.”
“We’re exercising a ‘synchronized organizational policy’.”
“We’re showing a ’balanced flexibility projection’.”
You get the idea. There’s a whole lot of speaking going on. Not long ago I heard someone quote some statistics. I don’t know where he got them, and I don’t really remember the numbers. I just heard it in passing on the radio while I was driving.
But the statistics said if the average person’s daily spoken words were put on paper, at the end of an average day his words would fill over 70 typewritten pages, and he’d complete about a book a week. Something like that. The speaker went on to talk about a year, and ten years, etc, but I don’t remember the numbers so I’ll drop it there. The point that he was making was that we might all be more than a little embarrassed and/or dismayed if we could look back at all our words in a library of books, and see how much in our life would have been better left unsaid, or at the very least, more thought given to our words before speaking.