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)
Ministry gets messy for the same reason stables get messy… There’s crud associated with the locals. It’s quite simple: if people didn’t have problems ministry wouldn’t have conflict. But, of course, we do…so there are.
Even amidst our Christian lives, arguments, disagreements, and tension-filled conflict will come, but when it does, here are five Biblical principles to consider before we ever open our lips:
- Listen. Be silent in your mind as well as your mouth. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
- Be teachable. Are you in the wrong? If so, how can you respond in humility, grace, and repentance? If you genuinely desire to grow in Christ-likeness, then remember that God uses iron to sharpen iron, and frequently, there will be sparks (Proverbs 27:17).
- Think. Take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). We are in a spiritual struggle against an enemy who seeks to divide us. Don’t let your thoughts grow vengeful, spiteful, or believe lies about others. Be disciplined in your thought life.
- Seek unity. We are one body with many parts. If this is true (which today’s text says it is), that means each believer’s mission is the same. Think about it, is the eye’s mission different than the heart’s? In its function—what it does—yes. In its mission—why it does it—no. Remember, we are one, a unified whole. Seek unity between yourself and your brothers and sisters because we’re playing for the same team.
- Model love over winning an argument. Always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) because love seeks unity over division and peace over strife (See especially 1 Corinthians 13:1-7). Sometimes, though, people are simply wrong, misled, or in sin. When this is the case, don’t shrink from the truth, but don’t use it as a weapon to wound, either. Love reconciles, pride dominates.
Our lives will not be free of controversy until Jesus returns. Until then, let’s remember his words, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
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