Thursday, July 16, 2020

Living in Unity and Harmony

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2)

Paul has made the point that all believers are one in Christ, both Jew and Gentile. He has also made the point in Ephesians 3 that his particular calling and glory is to call Gentiles into this new unity with Christ. Now he addresses the church and tells her how to act in terms of this reality.

He reminds them in Ephesians 4:1 that they have been called by God to a new walk, a walk characterized by riches of wisdom and insight. Then he tells them what this walk practically will be like. First, they must walk in humility. Just as Christ was willing to be humiliated, to suffer shame and disgrace before the eyes of men, so they must be willing to be abused by others. And this means they must be willing to put up with personal injustices against them within the church for the sake of the unity of the body. This is hard to do, but if we are going to see God’s new temple built in this world, we shall have to do it.

Second, he tells them that they must be completely gentle. The heart of the unconverted man is filled with anger against God, and thus anger and cruelty against the images of God (other people). The believer must be filled with gentleness toward others, and again this must manifest itself first in the church. In the church, the nursery of the kingdom, we learn the fundamental principles of the new life that we are to manifest in the world.

Third, he tells them that they must be patient and bear with one another in love. He has already mentioned three times the great love of God, which caused Him to be patient with us and to send His son to die for us (Ephesians 1:1–4, 2:4, 3:19). Now we are to manifest this same love toward one another.

The closer we are to someone, the more easy it is for that person to get under our skin. A wife can irritate her husband quicker than anybody else can, and a brother can vex his sister more than anyone else. In the church, where all are brothers and sisters, there is often a great deal of friction. Paul says that we must concentrate on patience and forbearance, expressing the unity that is ours in Christ.

Be honest and admit that people near to you often make you angry. Think of some recent cases and understand that these are trials God has sent to help you grow in patience, love, gentleness, and humility. Pray for those people by name. Transform those irritations into love and kindness.