Week of April 1
“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” -Ephesians 4:16
It seems everyone I know is in a new season. The people in our ministry are no exception. Our ministry is in a building up phase—a directive from the Lord—and it’s exciting to see all the creative things God is doing in our women’s lives, personally and professionally.
One of our volunteer facilitators just secured a position with Smith Barney in New York City, a dream job, more than she expected. One of our volunteer worship leaders just confirmed her first television appearance, a major breakthrough. And one of our other volunteers just started a new business, a whole new level of courage and fortitude for her. All these women rightfully believe God opened the doors of opportunity, and they encourage each other. I have seen such a tight sisterhood.
I also have the great joy of serving as a conduit, mentor, mentee, teacher and student. I enjoy seeing how God works everything for His (and our) good. He has our best interest at heart. He is for us. And when we overflow in His goodness, we cannot help but pour out His goodness to others.
Ephesians 4:16 is the scripture God gave to us for this season of building up. And I find the Greek transliteration of the words quite interesting:
Joined – To organize compactly; to be framed together; to fit.
Held Together – Compacts; drives together; infers, shows and teaches; entrusts; assuredly gathers, unites; knitted together and proves.
Supporting – Contributing.
Grows – Increases
Builds – Structures, edifies, confirms.
Love – goodwill (agape).
Part – A share, a portion.
Proper – A measure (NASB version).
According – In varied relations (NASB version).
Work – Effectual working; operative power; strong; efficiency (energy).
As we analyze this scripture, we see references to chosen, energetic people, each working together to make a unique contribution of efficient, effectual work that results in personal and professional affirmation, confirmation and multiplication, increasing goodwill and proving themselves to be a conjoined powerhouse.
We also see that the outcome of this scripture is conditional on each part or party doing their assigned work.
What I like best about this scripture is that it clearly reveals that the multiplicity factor is achieved by doing only our part. We don’t have to do anyone else’s part. We don’t have to fix anybody. We don’t have to do the Holy Spirit’s part. We just have to focus on the Lord and carry out our assignments, teaching by example, clarify and sharing along the way as the Holy Spirit leads.
By virtue of each person doing their part, each person strengthens the other in that we are inspired and constantly confronted with opportunities to discern, receive, teach, serve and forgive. If we take every issue that arises to God, He will give us His perspective on the matter.
Along the mission, God will use the things that irritate us to provoke us to come out of our comfort zones, to see people and things His way. Let us not appear foolish by insisting on our ways or viewpoints. Doing so is prideful arrogance, which usually involves an element of ignorance, because we do not see the “whole.” Only God sees the whole of anyone or anything. It is His viewpoint that matters most, not our opinions. Thus, humility is also a factor.
It is important to not give up, but to depart only when God releases us from our assignments. This is especially important in terms of honoring God and His timing for us and His great exploits. It’s about accomplishing His will His way. It’s about building character in us. It is about waiting on the Lord before moving into the next place. Instead of giving up in the middle of His orchestration, chose to remind yourself of your commitment, press into Him for understanding and to help you press on towards the completed work. Anything less can cause us to be out of sync with God’s flow and promotion process (Proverbs 4:5-8, Philippians 3:14).
Remember, too, we build ourselves up as we contribute to others and submit to God’s ways. That which we do for others, God will do for us, including in the area of forgiveness. He will work on our behalf when we work unto Him, even if, and especially if, His assignment for us is not what we would have chosen for ourselves. This is sacrifice. It is the principle of sowing and reaping; good or bad, what goes around, comes around. Don’t leave short of your reward. The enemy would like nothing more than to defeat you (Obadiah 1:15b).
Building up in this scripture does not refer to flattery (or manipulation), which the Bible speaks against. It does not refer to bossiness either, which may be rooted in self-righteousness. It refers to work, doing our part, and entrusting the Lord to do His part to bring the people and pieces together to create a tight bond of unity. Each person must choose commitment for this to happen. They must stay the course. Those who give up miss the opportunity to come up higher, to get free of their limited understanding and attitude. The scripture suggests that building up in love is a byproduct of the work that we do, in that as we work, we build goodwill. This applies internally and externally—building up the people and organizations that work with us and those we affect externally.
Clear direction from the Lord and those He places in authority is also a must. I have learned that if a team does not have clear direction, they each resort to what they know to do, based on each individual’s prior experience and present mindset. Lack of direction breeds disunity, and the result is a fragmented mess and stunted growth, along with strife and disorganization, which can cause distraction, delay and unnecessary duress.
I marvel at how, if we just ask the Lord to help us see circumstances through His eyes, He will give us the revelation of how to turn every lesson and challenge into opportunities for us to come up higher, personally and professionally, and to inspire others to do the same, simply by example and by sharing appropriately as led by the Lord.
May the Lord continually lift you to stay on course and finish the work He has purposed for you to do in unity.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ.