Looking at this equation, I’m sure you think I’m a bit mad. Unity and knowledge doesn’t equal maturity. But when you look at Ephesians 4:13 (and the passages before it) you will find that the purpose of the church, and those of our leaders, is to bring us believers to a point of unity and to encourage growth in knowledge of Christ. Once we reach this point, the outcome would be a group of believers who are mature and full-grown in the Lord.
When we are in unity with fellow believers, we share a common bond. No matter our background, where we were born, where we went to school, if we like to eat meat or are vegetarians…Christ is our common bond.
As Christians, Paul noted in Colossians 3:12-17, that we have been chosen by God, that we are the people He loves. And Paul notes how we should live and how we should treat others. Such a powerful passage (please read it because I can’t even begin to summarize this without going word for word, so it’s best to read it to understand it)…and really convicting when it comes to relationships with others. And, honestly the passage is so vital when considering unity in the body of believers. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about unity in the body of believers using the parts of our body as an illustration. He states that while all the parts are different, all are necessary, all are equally important…every little bit. Knowing that we are all important and are loved by God does help us when we find other believers a little difficult…you see, we must care for the difficult ones too…there is to be unity and harmony in the body of Christ no matter how different or who difficult they are. (1 Corinthians 12:25)
Probably one of the hardest things for us to do is to encourage people because it’s easier to find fault rather than trying to build someone up. It requires us to stop being our selfish selves and consider others. I never really thought that I was an encourager but I’ve been noticing that I love encouraging others, helping them get excited about what they are doing in life, and seeing their joy.
On Saturday, I spent the day as an encourager and I loved it…I met a friend for coffee in which we encouraged each other, saw another friend and congratulated her for her success in passing an important exam, and cheering on a couple of friends before and after they ran a 10k. Being an encourager isn’t as hard as it seems especially as we look at scripture and realize that we have great examples of encouragers in our lives. Stop right now and think of the encouragers in your life…right now…in the past…thank the Lord for them right now!
In the Bible, I think Paul was an amazing encourager. Yes, that’s right. He started out condemning Christians, but you only need to skim the New Testament books he wrote to see him in action as an encourager!
Have you ever wondered about this? It almost doesn’t make sense because of his past. I wonder if he learned to encourage from his friend Barnabas (a nickname given to Joseph of Cyprus meaning “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36-37)) or perhaps he learned this through his faith and in his walk with Christ. Perhaps it happened through maturity in Christ that made him an amazing encourager.
“…encourage those who are timid.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14b)
“Live a life filled with love for others…” (Ephesians 5:2)
Prayed for those he cared about. (Colossians 1:9-10)
Was convinced Christ would continue to work in the lives of believers. (Philippians 1:6)
Prayed for spiritual empowerment for those who loved God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
So really, unity and knowledge does equal maturity. We are unified when we understand that even though we are different we are equally important and necessary to God. We grow in knowledge when we understand the grace and mercy extended to us by Christ (and desire to know Him more deeply). We are mature in Him when we “hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ…Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Unity+ Knowledge = Maturity
Do you add up? Are you a work in progress like me?
Identify what you need to work on so that the above equation is true in your life.