Jump Start # 3110
Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every join supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
My wife put me on a mission the other day. She wanted me to find a specific brand of peanut butter. She had bought two new jars but they were recalled. She returned them, but the store didn’t have anymore of that brand. Go find peanut butter, that was my task before I headed home for the day. During the outbreak of the pandemic, toilet paper was in short supply. Now, baby formula is hard to get. Building supplies, car parts, even appliances are hard to get. The supply chain has been disrupted and it has impacted many. And, now in the Shouse house, we are looking for peanut butter.
All of this takes us to our passage today. Ephesians 4:14-16 is one long sentence in our English Bibles. It is a sentence containing 95 words. On top of that, this one sentence has twelve commas. I certainly can’t do that. I like short sentences. But, beyond the structure of this sentence, we find what makes a church work. Different parts, like gears, all rotating and connecting and each serving a function. Together the church grows. Together the church matures. Together the church stays together.
Here are how a couple other translations word this:
· NIV: joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
· ESV: 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 in love
We members are the working parts or the joints. When we do what we are supposed to do, the body functions strongly and well. Just like a car engine, when everything is running smoothly you can travel far and safe. But when a part isn’t working, your engine makes funny noises. Sometimes it stops because one part stopped working. Every part is essential. Every part is necessary.
From this, we learn some valuable lessons:
First, our role, or part may be different from others, but it is still necessary. Not everyone can stand behind the pulpit on Sunday. It’d get a bit crowded and there would be no one to hear the lesson. Some parts are bigger than others. Some parts are more visible than others. But every part is necessary.
When describing the spiritual gifts and how they work in the church, Paul told the Corinthians about functioning body parts. He used our senses, touch, sight, smell, hearing. Without any of those, we are limited. So, we must not be jealous of each other. We ought to be thankful that there are those who can add what I cannot. Together, we work. Together, things get done.
Second, every part is designed to work. Every joint supplies, is how our passage puts it. And, right there is a real problem. Because some don’t supply. They take. Like the hitchhiker of days gone by, he’ll hold out his thumb hoping you’ll stop and give him a ride. He won’t pay for the gas. He won’t help with the driving. And, when you have gone as far as he wants, he’ll get out. I wonder if some are doing the same with the church these days? They are along for the ride and will not help out in any way and when the church has taken them as far as they want to go, they’ll get out.
We all need to be adding and supplying to the whole. Encouragement and prayers are the easiest ways we can help. But, it’s more than that. It’s serving as shepherds and deacons. It’s teaching classes. It’s giving up a Saturday for someone who needs some help. It’s staying late after services to talk with someone who is discouraged. Supplying. Adding. Doing our part. Working. That’s the idea.
Third, when some parts don’t work, it affects the parts that are working. The work load becomes heavier because fewer are doing what they could. Folks get tired because no one wants to do what they can. Discouragement takes over. In time, other parts stop working. Before long, the ole’ engine is sputtering, smoking and barely moving. It’s a real mess now. It gets that way because we wait for others to step up. We’ll jump in when the other guy does. Well, the other guy is waiting on you. So, both sit on the sideline of life, waiting, not supplying and not doing what God created them to do. Rather than waiting for the other person, take the lead and be a leader. Do what you can. Even if no one else does, you know what to do.
Supplying…working…functioning…that’s what we all need to do.