Our problem is not a monster that eats up people. Our problem is that we become that monster. We do not eat people physically, but we do relationally. Too often in life we forget the person that is the “who” behind the “what” we appreciate in life.
Mother’s Day is a great reminder to appreciate who the person is, not just what they do. There is no “what” that matters in life without “who” the person is. A mother’s love is simply the result of a mother who loves. It does not exist without her. This is God’s intention for our life development and maturity.
God’s process is people. God gives people. God gives all types of people with all types of gifts, abilities, and talents. He desires to use people to help us mature and grow. Ephesians 4:11-16 teaches the importance of people in God’s purposes for our lives.
God desires for us to grow up and look more like Him. He desires that we would grow into “mature manhood, to the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ.” First, God desires us to grow up. Maturity should be the expectation not the exception. Often the problem in our culture (including the modern Church) is that we simply have no expectation of maturity. We accept immaturity and we define maturity incorrectly. Second, God desires us to look more like Him. He desires that in our personal maturity that the fullness of Christ would be evident.
God uses people to grow us up into the fullness of Christ. Specifically in this passage Paul speaks of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. These are people. People God has given a particular set of abilities for a particular reason. His purpose in them is that the Church would be built up and that all believers would be able to do the work of the ministry. These people do not exist to do all the work, but to lead others by example and in truth so that they all, together, might do God’s work.
Maturity is not a destination. Maturity is an ongoing process. Here are a few healthy markers for maturity found in this passage. We should have a growing knowledge of God. JI Packer writes, “A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him.” You learn in your knowledge of Him as you learn about Him and put it into practice. We should have a growing understanding of self. Knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses is a sign of maturity. Growing faith in Christ is another healthy marker of maturity. Growing faith is the result of applied faith. If you are doing nothing in your life that requires full trust upon the Lord to accomplish, then your faith will not grow. Faith is theoretical. The last marker of maturity in this passage is growing love for all. Loving those who love is easy and anyone can do it. Are you loving the unlovable?
If God’s process is people, how does he use them? Here are a few healthy movers towards maturity. Maturity is not defined by these; it is developed through these.
- Loving truth.
We all need people who love us and love truth. These people will speak truth to us because they love us. It is more difficult to be used by the Lord if you love truth more than you love people. The same, however, is true if you love people more than truth. We all need people who love both in our lives.
It takes a village to raise a child, make sure you are in the right village. We need people who give into our lives and receive from our lives. We need to receive into our lives and give from our lives. We all need this because God designed us that way.
3. Practiced Selflessness.
Sacrifice is not a theory; it is a practice. If you think you would sacrifice if God would only be clear in his direction, then you need to read some more. God has been clear. We simply must put selflessness to use in our lives. Put some other people before yourself and see what God will do.
The constant in this process of growing up is God’s sustaining grace. All Christians believe in God’s saving grace. (For by grace are you saved through faith and this not of yourselves…) We, too often, fail to truly believe in His sustaining grace. (My grace is sufficient for you…) His grace is the railroad tracks the rest of these important movers move us along. His grace is the constant. The day you fail to live by his grace is the day you stop growing up in Christ.
So beware of the One-Eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater. Beware that it might just be you. People are important. People matter. People are God’s process. You need them. And they need you.
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