18. How to live toward unity.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV) “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Yesterday I was thinking about my personal response to the command to act worthy of my calling, and how it applied to my life. Now I see that Paul is urging this personal response in the context of the larger community. To fulfill my calling, I must be humble and gentle and patient with other people. This sounds very appealing to me; it’s how I want to be. That is, until I rub up against someone who is not easy to love, who does not agree with exactly what I believe, who does not appreciate what I am doing for him or her. I am so glad God has Paul include loving all people. As ESV translates verse 2, I must bear with one another in love. The only people I need to “bear with” are those whom I consider unpleasant in some way. Suddenly, Paul’s injunction does not sound so appealing and easy to me. I need to “make every effort” (NLT) and be “eager to maintain…unity” (ESV) because it is the Spirit who unites us all, for accomplishing God’s purposes on earth and for eternity as the Bride of Christ. God loves and values all of His followers.
Thought and application questions: who is it in my life that I must “put up with”? What has my reaction been to this person (or group of people) so far? How would God like me to be relating to that person? How am I going to change in order to love him or her and build unity?
Father, please help me truly love others, especially my brothers and sisters in the faith, by being humble, gentle, and patient. Give me love for those who are less loveable at first glance. Help me to see them as Your dearly loved children, created and gifted by You. And please give grace to those who need to put up with me. Amen.