Landing on a small plane in a crosswind is unnerving. My wife and I once approached San Juan airport in Puerto Rico with the nose of our plane pointing about thirty degrees off the line of the runway. The pilot did an excellent job though, touching down with hardly a bump.
Paul used dramatic language in a warning about hazardous winds that can blow Christians off course. Our destination is spiritual maturity. The measure of that maturity is Jesus Christ. Before we mature we are like the youngest children (nēpioi). Paul painted a picture of little children tossed around by winds and waves like a light aircraft.
We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
So, what is the dangerous wind and how can we steer a safe course through it? Paul likened false teaching to a gale. It spins heads and makes people spiritually dizzy. The wind of false teaching blows from the lips of false teachers. In the case of the Ephesian church, those teachers were unscrupulous tricksters and deceivers who cunningly tried to divert younger believers from the truth.
Children have many wonderful qualities. Jesus pointed to a child (paidion) as an example of the qualities that suit us for the kingdom of God. But He didn’t specify which qualities, and even strengths have a downside. Childlike trust is admirable but it can leave us vulnerable to deception. Without discernment, an excitement over novel ideas is nothing more than naivety. So, before we run giggling after the next new teaching or ministry model, a few safeguards:
- Our objective standard of doctrinal truth is the Bible. Love always has the highest good of the other person in mind. The best for each of us is life in relationship with God. Are you part of a community of believers who speak Scriptural truth in love, regularly and clearly, in a way that is relevant to your life?
- Jesus is our model of spiritual maturity. We are to become like Him. Any teaching that minimizes the importance of Jesus or suggests alternatives is an ill wind.
It is hard to notice crosswinds without reference landmarks. Scripture and the example of Jesus are our best landmarks. If you find yourself flying sideways compared to them, make a course correction.
Please share Bible Maturity with anyone who would benefit from other Bible devotions like this one.