December 14, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Beautiful Body of Christ”

Ephesians 4:8-16 (ESV)

Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 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, 16 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.

Have you ever watched a basketball team play so beautifully together that they make it seem too easy? I’m a San Antonio Spurs fan and the Spurs of the past two decades have been the model for team basketball. While many teams had superstars that could dominate in stretches, the Spurs had talented yet unselfish players to complement one another so that they could play the game to perfection. The result was a sustained excellence on the court that lasted two decades.

A leadership podcast (Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast) that I recently heard stated that the most important element of an organization is . . . the people. What a surprise!  Yes, we can often be fooled into thinking that things such as the right location, abundant resources and cutting-edge technology are the most important elements, but in the end, people are indeed the most important factor to the success of an organization. And it boils to what kind of people we have: selfish or selfless.

It’s no different in the church—people are the most valuable components, and it is through unselfish believers the body of Christ is built up. This is to say, God doesn’t simply “baptize” the church with the Spirit’s fire so that it grows quickly (except in rare occasions); instead, He gives each member spiritual gifts so that they can work together to build up the church in love.

In today’s passage, we see that God has given the gift of the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) for the purpose of training up people in the church so that the rest of the body may realize their gifting, become adept in it, and build up the body. When each member of the body of Christ works unselfishly, the body grows.

Remember, the church was never meant to be a place for people to become spectators, but for them to become participants in the glorious task of building up the church. Your church needs you to be an active participant! Of course, you need to go about it through the right channels and with unselfish attitude, but may this be a reminder that God has given this important task of building up the church to you and me. Let’s take this seriously and be part of the exciting adventure in seeing the body of Christ grow in maturity!

Prayer: Father God, what a privilege it is that You call us to be part of the body that works together to build itself up in love. I want to be a part of that process. May You use me in whatever way You see fit; may I experience the joy of seeing Your body come into full maturity.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 15


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 (ESV): For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Question to Consider

  1. In this passage, how does Paul describe the Church?
  2. Why do we need different functions within the church?
  3. What does this passage ultimately tell us to do?

Notes

  1. After describing the church as the body of Christ, the apostle Paul points out the need for different members of the body to work together for the common goal of building it.
  2. If everyone functions the same way with the same gifts and talents, the body of Christ would not be able to reach its full potential; in fact, it wouldn’t function at all.
  3. This passage instructs us to give honor to every person in the body of Christ. While functions may be different (some more glamorous than others), all members of the body of Christ have equal value. We must be watchful to care for one another equally (not just the ones that seem more important).

Evening Reflection

Have you ever thought about spiritual gifts God has given you for the building up of the body of Christ? How are you using these gifts?  Think of ways you would be able to steward these gifts for the building up of the body. I would suggest talking with the leadership in your church to see what would be appropriate for you to participate in. Let’s be participants and not just spectators as we work together to build up God’s church!

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