Challenge Central: a CBC devotional
by: Pastor Lars Janssen
I have a sister-in-law who has the spiritual gift of hospitality. She naturally understands the difference between “hospitality” (graciously sharing what you have) and “entertaining” (putting on a diverting or engaging event). I only began to truly appreciate her gift when we had an extended family gathering and she was late in arriving (out of necessity, not ill manners). When we were ready to eat, several of us just stood around lamenting her absence because we weren’t sure how to arrange the food without her. Part of the family was missing—her function was not fulfilled as it would have been by her—and the whole family felt her absence.
God has designed his church family similarly. He has gifted individuals in his church to fulfill its ministry as they contribute through their spiritual gifts. When part of the family doesn’t show up, the absence is felt by the rest. Paul explains the beautifully co-operative edification of the church in Ephesians 4:15-16: “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.”
To begin with, we speak “the truth in love” to each other. This means brutal honesty is off the table. We are not brutal; we are loving. We speak loving honesty. The goal in our words is not to win or be right, the goal with our words is to help others “grow up in every way … into Christ.” We do not speak down to each other as judges, we come alongside each other and speak gently as fellow sinners.
Lord, I repent of brutally speaking down to others … May we all repent of such arrogance. May we be lovingly honest.
Then the passage tells us that we are “joined and held together by every joint with which [we are] equipped.” There are no extra pieces in God’s family. He has equipped us with each other and with our gifts. Find your place and bless your family—in doing so, we glorify God for his generosity.
Lord, I repent of my hesitancy to recognize your equipping … May we all recognize your purpose in putting us here right now.
Finally, these verses tell us that when “each part is working properly … the body grow[s] so that it builds itself up in love.” It ends where it began! When we each do our part, we are better at loving! If we aren’t “working properly” we look for help—loving help. As we begin to exercise our God-equipped gifts, everyone grows and becomes more loving—lovingly honest; lovingly equipped; lovingly growing.
Lord, I repent of my independent attitude … May we all eagerly search out our place in your body—the church.
Praying together is a major part of this growth. I encourage you, if you are at all able, to be there when your church family prays together. Without you there, someone is missing.
Who will “organize the food,” as my sister-in-law does?
Who will pray your prayers?
Who will speak the thoughts God has given you?
Who will do what only you would think to do?
Without you there, someone is missing.