Thursday, July 15, 2010

GROWTH IN GRACE CAN BE STUNTED!

Paul warned the Ephesians, "Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). You may think, "This verse doesn't apply to me. My foundation is biblically solid. I'm not taken in by all the new gospel fads and frivolous gimmicks that are distracting people from Christ. I'm rooted and grounded in God's Word."

Yet listen to the rest of Paul's verse: "…carried about…by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (4:14). Perhaps you can't be fazed by false doctrine. Paul says you could still be carried away by a whole other matter. He's asking, "Are you tossed about by the evil plans of those who oppose you?"

Paul's message calls us to examine ourselves yet again: How do we react to people who call themselves our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet spread falsehoods about us?

When Paul commands, "Be no more children," he's telling us, "Those enemies of yours—the ones who use gossip and slander, fraud and manipulation, cunning and craftiness, deception and underhandedness—I tell you, they're all rebellious children. They're devious and spoiled. And they haven't allowed God's grace to do a work in them. So, don't fall for their wicked, childish games. They want you to react to their meanness as a child would. But you are not to answer them with childishness."

In the next verse, Paul urges us to move on to maturity: "Speaking the truth in love, may [you] grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). He's saying, "You can't help the slights you receive, the hurts done to you, the gossip spoken against you, the fraud and deception aimed at you. Yet, you can use these things to grow in grace. View them as opportunities to become more Christlike. Respond softly, with a meek spirit. Forgive those who spitefully use you."