Being Firmly Rooted and Established in Godly Love
This is the second part of a follow-up to our past article, Are You Being “Taught of God to Love One Another?” (Second Quarter 2006) This article briefly amplifies upon how we become firmly rooted and established in godly love, after God our Father has successfully planted it like a seed within us, and it has germinated and sprouted. For the proper background to this matter, please review the first of the follow-up articles in the First Quarter 2008 edition of the Quarterly.
Once God our Father has successfully planted the seed of godly selfless love within us through the initial effectual working of Romans 12:3–5; and once it has both germinated and sprouted within us, so that we truly “think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” and we also genuinely start to cherish one another as the “members one of another” that we are in the body of Christ; then much like the seedling that it is, our newly sprouted attitude of godly selflessness needs to become firmly rooted and established within us.
In other words, it needs to go from being initially weak and inexperienced to becoming strong, experienced, and vigorous. Likewise it needs to become stable and steady within us, so that it is neither sporadic, inconsistent, nor wishy-washy. Furthermore it also needs to become ‘thick-skinned,’ so to speak, so that we will not be easily offended or miffed by the actions of others and end up quickly replacing it with a carnal attitude.
In short, therefore, our newly sprouted attitude of godly selflessness needs to become firmly rooted and established within us so that it becomes our normal working attitude towards one another.
Now having this take place is not only consistent with what the full effectual working of Romans 12:3–8 provides for, but it is also absolutely necessary. For it is only when godly selflessness is our normal working attitude towards one another that we are properly prepared for, (and are capable of engaging in), the upcoming great work of having our seedling of godly love grow and develop into the same kind of strong and mature plant of love and charity that lives within God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore as we continue to examine how our Father goes about teaching us to love as He does, (and also to the extent that He does), let’s now look at this important issue to see how it is that He provides for us to become firmly rooted and established in godly selfless love.
Very simply put, when we start to actively put our newly generated attitude of godly selfless love into practice in our dealings with one another, this is what causes it to become strong, stable, and steady within us.
For when we put our attitude of godly selflessness into practice we exercise it, so to speak. And as is the case with most forms of exercise, this provides for it to build itself up and also to enlarge. Hence when we exercise our attitude of godly selflessness, it not only strengthens and increases its hold in our minds, but it also enlarges its presence there as well.
Now in connection with making this happen, there is more to the effectual working of the information in Romans 12:3–5 than what we have noted so far. In particular the rest of its effectual working is actually designed to cause us to want to put our new attitude of godly selflessness into practice in our dealings with one another, and to do this in a very specific way.
And, once again, it is by doing this that our newly sprouted attitude of godly selflessness will begin to become firmly rooted and established within us. Which in turn equips it to be able to engage in the upcoming work of growth and development.
So let’s return to Romans 12:3–5 and look at the rest of its effectual working.
The Rest of the Effectual Working of Romans 12:3–5
When it comes to us appropriately cherishing each other as the “members one of another” that we are in God’s “new creature” the church the body of Christ, this also needs to involve us valuing and esteeming each other’s “office” in the body. For with God our Father having given each of us “the measure of faith,” then this means that we each also occupy an ‘office’ in the body, (and as such have a role to fulfill therein), just as Paul indicates.
4 For as we have many members in one body, AND ALL MEMBERS HAVE NOT THE SAME OFFICE:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:4–5)
Now it is very easy for us to logically acknowledge that since we are members of the body of Christ that we each must have an “office.” And we seem to readily do this.
However as the information in Romans 12:3–5 effectually teaches us to think of one another as “the members one of another” that we are in the body of Christ, (and to cherish one another as such), we ought to do more than simply acknowledge the logic of each other’s “office.” In truth we ought to cherish each other’s “office” as well.
And indeed this is exactly what we should do. For even in nature itself no member of any kind of body simply gives mental assent to another member’s “office.” That’s unheard of. This is because a body member’s “office” is far too important a thing to merely acknowledge that it exists, or simply ‘give a nod of the head’ to it.
On the contrary body members by nature deeply appreciate each other’s “office,” clearly realizing that each is vitally important. Hence they know every member in direct connection with their “offices,” and as such they cherish them for the sake of their “offices.”
So without a doubt this is exactly how it ought to be with us as well.
But more to the point, this is how it needs to be with us so that our newly sprouted attitude of godly selfless love will become firmly rooted and well established within us. For as has been noted, when our godly love for one another also truly includes valuing and esteeming each other’s “office” in the body of Christ, this is what will cause us to want to act selflessly towards each other. And as we actively put our attitude of godly selfless love into practice, this in turn will provide for it to become firmly rooted and well established within us.
So then in accordance with what Paul said to the Corinthians…
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; AND HAVE BEEN ALL MADE TO DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT. (I Corinthians 12:13)
…let us ourselves now “drink into one Spirit” a little more.
Or in other words, for the sake of the full effectual working of Romans 12:3–5 within us, let’s look more closely at the issue of our “offices” in the body of Christ to make sure that we understand and appreciate them. In doing so we will ensure that our cherishing of each other includes this very important matter of truly valuing and esteeming each other’s “office” as well.
Our “Offices” as Body Members
To begin with it should be obvious to us that since we are body members that this means we have real “offices,” and that this is not merely a figurative attribute, nor some sort of imaginary designation.
For if our living-union-relationship in one body is both real and genuine, then so also are our “offices.” Likewise as Paul indicates, since the members of our own physical bodies have real “offices,” then we should know that the same is true with us in “the body of Christ.”
However this is also something with which we must be suitably impressed. Or in other words we must learn to deeply appreciate each other’s “office” so that we truly value them. For this is the only way that we will properly and fully cherish each other as the “members one of another” that we are.
Now in order for us to do this we first need to make sure that when we think of ourselves as ones who are joined together in the living-union-relationship of the body of Christ, that we do not think of this only in a positional sense. For this is not the case at all. But unfortunately all too often this seems to be all that we do acknowledge.
However with us having been baptized into one body, the truth is that we have been made “members one of another” in a very dynamic and functional sense. In other words we have been joined together one with another for the express purpose of actively interacting with one another, and functionally cooperating with one another, and mutually contributing to each other’s functionality. Just as is the case with the members of any kind of natural body.
But besides this, since in Christ Jesus we are God’s “new creature” in connection with His revelation of “the mystery of Christ,” then it should also be evident to us that we are not “members one of another” in a mere positional sense.
For the fact is we are created by God in Christ to provide for eventually delivering “the creature” from its present state of functional deadness under “the bondage of corruption,” and thereby liberating it from its long-standing subjection to “vanity.”
Wherefore in our living-union-relationship in the body of Christ, and as the “members one of another” that we are, we have been given many of the same kind of functional features as those belonging to “the creature” itself. And God has done this so that right now we can engage in much the same kind of functional life and living as “the creature” itself has been designed to have.
In addition to this God has also given the body of Christ some functional features that are designed to manifest to “the creature” some previously unknown and unheard of abilities, which it will be partakers of when it is delivered from its present state of vanity.
So then in perfect accordance with God now having given “the creature” its glorious hope, He has purposed that His “new creature” should neither imitate nor reflect any part or aspect of “the creature’s” present state of functional deadness and vanity.
Instead our Father has purposed that by our functional living we are to clearly and intelligently, (as well as genuinely and abundantly), manifest to “the creature” what its upcoming deliverance is going to be like, when through us it gets delivered into the marvelous glory of full functional life, usefulness, and complete serviceability to God.
Wherefore it should be obvious to us that we are neither in “one body” nor “members one of another” in a mere positional sense. For God has not planned for us to be a non-working model or prototype of His “new creature.”
Therefore in the body of Christ we clearly are “members one of another” for the express purpose of functionally living and acting together. Both in this life, and in that which is to come.
Now in conjunction with this our Father has also designed for us to intelligently and purposefully work together with multi-disciplined and multi-faceted cooperation. For this too is just how “the creature” itself was originally designed to function, given all of its positions of intelligentsia. In fact with all of their various and differing capacities, they themselves were originally designed to cooperate together in a corporate, or bodily, sense.
Hence by being dealt “the measure of faith” by our Father, and in being made “members one of another” in the body of Christ, we ourselves are likewise invested with many serviceable functions of various abilities and capacities; i.e. “offices.” And these are all designed by God to function together both smoothly and collectively, just like was designed to take place with “the creature,” and just like does take place with all of the various and differing members in our own physical bodies.
So then for all of these reasons it should be clear to us that we each have a real “office” in the body of Christ, with all of the real functionality and real responsibility that goes with it.
Therefore we each have a real role to fulfill as a member of the body of Christ — a role which is not only important and useful, but also necessary and vital.
Being Suitably Impressed with Each Other’s “Office”
So with God having designed for us to be such dynamic and functional “members one of another,” then doubtless we should truly and deeply appreciate each other’s “office.” Yea, we should even admire them.
Furthermore since we know that we are ‘many members in one body,’ and that as such we ‘do not all have the same office,’ then we should also conclude that the only way we can properly function in our own “office,” (and do both the body and ourselves any real good), is if we genuinely value the functional life of each other’s “office” and thereby cooperate with it.
Moreover we should also perceive that just as the successful functional living of a member of our own physical body is directly tied to that of its fellow members, (and each member of our body understands and appreciates that this is so), so also is this the case with us, being the “members one of another” that we are.
Now when we do realize these things, and accordingly deeply appreciate and value each other’s “office,” this not only effectually works within us to cause us to cherish each other all the more, but this also causes us to want to treat each other, and deal with each other, accordingly. Or in other words, this effectually causes us to eagerly want to put our godly love into practice with one another and actually serve one another.
The Result of Cherishing Each Other’s “Office”
Once again, when we genuinely cherish each other’s “office,” this effectually works within us to cause us to want to treat each other accordingly, i.e. to act and behave selflessly towards one another.
More to the point, it causes us to want to deliberately and freely give of ourselves to our fellow body members, (and especially in ways that have us intelligently cooperating with their own functional living), so that we thereby wisely work together with them in our Father’s operations in order to achieve His objectives for the body of Christ.
For in accordance with the nature of godly love and its workings within our spirit, the plain fact of the matter is this: If we truly value and esteem each other in view of each other’s “office,” then we cannot help but want to deal with one another in completely selfless ways. For the great value that we place upon each other, and upon each other’s “office,” actually constrains us and compels us to function selflessly.
Indeed this is exactly what the members of our own physical bodies do in connection with their own “offices,” as the “members one of another” that they are.
Now when it comes to us doing likewise, we can learn some things from their example. In fact by deliberately drawing the parallel between ourselves and the members of our bodies, our Father has designed that we do so.
The Selfless Living of Body Members
In perfect accordance with their natural selfless thinking, (which was described in the previous article), the functional living of our physical body members is also purely selfless.
This, once again, is because their cherishing of one another also involves cherishing each other’s “office.” Hence since they truly cherish one another’s “office,” they not only think loving thoughts about each other and have a selfless attitude, but they also fervently want to put their loving thoughts and selfless attitude into action. Which is just what they do.
In essence, therefore, this means that the members of our physical bodies always go about behaving and acting selflessly in all of their dealings with one another, and so they serve one another as they purposely live for each other’s benefit and profit, (and so for the benefit of the whole body), and not so much for their own.
Now in connection with this there are four basic realizations and corresponding desires that the members of our bodies have, which serve to activate their selfless attitude, and so motivate them unto selfless conduct and behaviour. And in view of what Romans 12:4–5 says, we can readily discern what these four basic realizations and desires are when we take the time to think about how the members of our own physical bodies deal with one another in their individual “offices.”
These four basic realizations and desires are also resident in what Paul says in I Corinthians 12:12–27, where he not only amplifies upon the fact that body members naturally think selflessly, but also shows that they act selflessly as well in all of their dealings with one another.
Now very simply stated, these four basic realizations and their corresponding desires are as follows:
(1) a body member clearly realizes and appreciates the usefulness of every other member in the body and their “offices,” and that each is equally useful to that of his own, with the result that he desires to support the function of every other member;
(2) a body member realizes that he supports the functional living of his fellow members by fully cooperating with their “offices,” and so he desires to assist with the execution of another member’s “office” in whatever way is fitting;
(3) a body member realizes that by being “members one of another” in the body that he is designed to respond to both the ordinary and extraordinary needs expressed by another member, and so he desires to be sensitive to, and actively care for, any such needs that may arise;
And (4) a body member realizes that the operations of the whole body are what he serves by means of the function of his own “office,” and so he purposefully and enthusiastically pursues the betterment of each and every member’s ability to function in the role of its office, for the sake of the whole body.
Once again, these four basic realizations and their corresponding desires are what serve to arouse and activate a body member’s selfless attitude.
Their impact upon a member’s thinking energizes him to want to act selflessly in his dealings with his fellow members, and so motivating him to want to contribute to the successful functioning of his fellow members in their “offices” by serving their needs in whatever way he can.
In fact it is interesting to find that in textbooks and articles on physiology, (especially when they are addressing and examining the main kinds of intricate interfacing that exist, and the main forms of multi-disciplined interaction that take place, between major body systems or parts), it is not uncommon for these biological interactions between such systems to be likened to the kind of selfless service and deeds that are rendered by loving and devoted servants.
This is because on a very detailed and micro level physiologists are able to see what is equally true and observable with our bodies on a macro level. Which is that the kind of activities that take place within the various body systems, (and that also occur between the various levels of body interaction), are all activities in which each system or part is not only dedicated to supporting the function of other systems or parts, but each part also desires to actively work selflessly at its own expense to contribute to the ability of other systems or parts to do their jobs and so achieve their objectives within the body.
So then as these marvelous synergetic qualities of the body’s micro physiology are cited or are described, terminology is often used which in actuality describes how that each system or part conducts itself in a selfless and charitable manner in its dealings with other systems or parts, and so acts just like a loving, devoted, and faithful servant would act.
Hence in such descriptions reference is often made to how our physical body’s synergy, (whether on a macro or micro level), operates according to, or in line with, one or more of the four aforementioned realizations and corresponding desires that are behind the selfless behaviour of body members.
Now with this being so, it is not the least bit surprising to find that when our Father in I Corinthians 12:12–27 has Paul amplify upon how it is that our own physical body members naturally think selflessly and act selflessly, he either directly or indirectly makes reference to the workings of these four natural realizations and desires operating within them.
Hence when Paul starts out saying…
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. (I Corinthians 12:12–20)
…this involves the first of the four realizations and desires behind selfless conduct, which once again is the issue of a body member clearly realizing and appreciating the usefulness of every other member in the body and their “offices,” and that each is equally useful to that of his own, with the result that he desires to support the function of every other member.
Then as Paul continues on and says…
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to more feeble, are necessary: (I Corinthians 12:21–22)
…this involves the second realization and desire, which is the issue of a body member realizing that he supports the functional living of his fellow members by fully cooperating with their “offices,” and so he desires to assist with the execution of another member’s “office” in whatever way is fitting.
Following this the third realization and desire behind selfless behaviour more or less comes into view when Paul goes on to say…
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: (I Corinthians 12:23–24a)
For this involves the issue of a body member realizing that by being “members one of another” in the body that he is designed to respond to both the ordinary and extraordinary needs expressed by another member, and so he desires to be sensitive to, and to actively care for, any such needs that may arise.
And then when Paul concludes the amplification by saying…
24b …: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (I Corinthians 12:24b–27)
…this takes into account the fourth of the four basic realizations and desires behind selfless conduct, which once again is the issue of a body member realizing that the operations of the whole body are what he serves by means of the function of his own “office,” and so he purposefully and enthusiastically pursues the betterment of each and every member’s ability to function in the role of its office, for the sake of the whole body.
The Same With Us
When, therefore, Romans 12:3–5 has done its job within us so that we, (like the members of our own physical bodies), genuinely cherish each other and our “offices,” this will effectually work within us to cause us to want to act accordingly. That is, it will arouse and stimulate our newly sprouted attitude of godly selflessness, and so cause us to eagerly want to selflessly serve one another and be charitable to one another in our dealings with each other.
So then once God our Father’s teaching has made it so that we are truly cherishing each other as we should, and we are earnestly desiring to serve one another, He has Paul go on in verses 6–8 to exhort us to put our godly selfless love for one another into practice.
But He exhorts us to do this in a very specific way. That is, in a way which appropriately makes use of each of our “offices,” and so provides for our godly selfless love to become firmly rooted and established within us.
Our Father, therefore, exhorts us to exercise our godly selflessness and serve one another in ways that have our “offices” intelligently functioning and cooperating just as they should. In other words, in ways that have us lovingly working together as a body, with the result that we corporately carry out one of God’s most fundamental operations in this present dispensation of His grace.
Putting Our Godly Love into Practice
As we enthusiastically employ “the measure of faith” that our Father has given us as His “sons” and earnestly desire to function one with another in our “offices” in the body of Christ, our first order of business when it comes to labouring with our Father in the operations of His business is to work together with Him in the proper operation of a local church.
For as we should have learned from our sonship orientation and establishment back in Romans 8, a local church is more or less our trade school. For it is where we primarily receive our sonship education, and also learn how to ‘ply our trade’ as God’s “new creature” the body of Christ.
Consequently it is in the environment of a local church that we first and foremost actually do the practical work of ‘plying our trade.’ For by the very nature of what it is, (i.e. an assembling of His “sons” for the purpose of learning and practicing our trade as His “new creature”), God our Father has designed a local church to provide the very venue that we need for the exercising and honing of all of our body member functions and skills.
For this reason God has also designed for a local church to engage in a number of His operations, with each one requiring the exercise of the various skills and abilities that He effectually gives us by means of our sonship education.
So as we assemble together as a local church and deal with each other we have the opportunity to actively put into practice amongst ourselves the very things that we are learning, and the very skills that we are acquiring, as we receive our sonship education.
In connection with this, as each of the “sons” in a local church makes progress in their own personal “godly edifying,” the local church itself as a whole is correspondingly enabled by God to engage in and carry out more and more of His operations — even to the point of carrying out all of the operations of the body of Christ in its particular locale.
And then on top of all of this, while a local church is engaged in carrying out God’s operations, it is also manifesting and demonstrating to “the creature” that we are not only receiving our proper sonship education as the members of God’s “new creature,” but that we are also successfully acquiring all of the necessary ‘creature-type’ skills, abilities, and capacities that we need, so that we will be able to deliver “the creature” into the glory of the full functional life that God has now revealed it will receive.
Wherefore when it comes to us functioning in our “offices,” the most fundamental way in which we do this is in the operation of a local church. And so when in accordance with cherishing each other’s “offices” we eagerly desire to put our godly selfless love for each other into practice, we should do this first and foremost by selflessly cooperating with each other’s “office” unto the proper and orderly functioning of a local church.
For this cause, therefore, our Father now provides for us to know exactly how to put our newly sprouted godly love for each other into practice, (and thereby also provides for it to become firmly rooted and established within us), by having Paul go on in Romans 12:6–8 and exhort us saying…
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6–8)
Before looking at this exhortation, we need to acknowledge that as per what we are taught later on in I Corinthians 13, God long ago brought in His “more excellent way” of supplying us with the ability to carry out the various “offices” in the body of Christ. Hence we know that long ago in this dispensation God dispensed with the temporary measure that He once had of ‘supernaturally gifting’ the members of the body of Christ with various “office” abilities.
Likewise according to I Corinthians 13 we know that God has also dispensed with the role of certain abilities and “offices,” (like that of prophecy, tongues, miracles, and others), seeing that (1) they are no longer needed after He instituted His “more excellent way,” or (2) the operation in which they once had a role no longer exists as an operation of God in this present dispensation.
Howbeit under the present “more excellent way” we still need to wisely know how to function selflessly in our “offices” so as to properly carry out the operation of a local church. And this, once again, is what Paul’s exhortation gives us to know.
So then as per what Paul exhorts, (and also in perfect accordance with the four basic realizations and desires of body members), if in our “offices” we are ones who are entrusted with ministering God’s word and doing the work of “godly edifying,” (as is the case with ones who ‘minister,’ ‘teach,’ and ‘exhort’), then out of godly selfless love we should each do our jobs in both an orderly and submissive manner.
In other words we should each selflessly function ‘in turn’ and not ‘out of order,’ so to speak, doing so in full appreciation for the orderly way in which God’s word is to be ministered for the sake of its effectual working. Hence as we each do our jobs we should appropriately submit to the workings of each other’s “office,” recognizing where our “offices” fit in the order of edification, and so selflessly cooperate with any “office” with precedence by allowing it to effectually do its job before doing our own. Hence as Paul says we should either “wait on our ministering,” or “on teaching,” or “on exhortation,” as the case may be.
Similarly, (and as the balance of verses 6–8 say), if in our “offices” we are ones whose jobs involve the practical but less comely aspects of a local church’s operation, (like that of ‘giving,’ or of ‘ruling,’ or of ‘shewing mercy’), then out of godly selfless love we too should be content to wait and to do our jobs when they are needed.
But along with this we should do our jobs passionately, fervently, and conscientiously, just like a ‘less comely’ member of a body selflessly does. For despite the fact that our practical “offices” may appear ‘less comely,’ or may seem ‘to be feeble,’ compared to “offices” that are directly involved in producing “godly edifying,” they are not inferior. They are just as necessary and vital to the operation of the local church.
Wherefore as Paul says, out of godly selfless love let us who give “do it with simplicity”; and let us who rule do it “with diligence”; and us who in our “office” shew mercy, let us do it “with cheerfulness.”
Causing Us to Become Firmly Rooted and Established in Godly Love
As was noted at the outset, when we actively put our newly sprouted godly selfless love for one another into practice, this causes it to become firmly rooted and established within us. And as was also noted, this is an important and necessary step in our Father’s process of teaching us to love as He does and to the extent that He does. For only when basic godly selflessness and charity is our normal working attitude towards one another, is it strong enough, steady enough, and experienced enough to begin engaging in the great work of growing and developing.
Wherefore as we respond positively and properly to the fulness of what our Father teaches us in Romans 12:3–8 so that (1) we genuinely “think soberly” about one another as the “sons” and “members one of another” that we are; and (2) we sincerely cherish each other and so deal with each other and treat each other accordingly; and (3) we fittingly labour together in our “offices” as a body in the operation of a local church; then by the experience of so doing our newly sprouted godly love for one another will become firmly rooted and established within us, and become our normal working attitude.
The Next Step
When this is so, then we are ready for our Father to teach us more. We are fit to have Him begin to work within us to effectually cause our basic godly love and charity to begin to grow and develop.
Hence as we take the next step in His curriculum for our “godly edifying,” our Father will give us information that is designed to cause our basic godly love and charity to start to take on and manifest a number of further traits and characteristics that are likewise part of His own full-featured love and boundless charity.
– K. R. Blades