October 24, 2021
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” -Ephesians 4:1
And what does this look like?
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” -Ephesians 4:2-3
If you’ve read my previous posts on this topic, you know that I have been guilty of skipping verses 2-3 and getting caught up in verse 1. With a “Braveheart” mentality, I would get lost in proving myself worthy and miss Paul’s urging to be completely humble and gentle, patient and unifying.
Let’s look more closely at this command.
Be completely humble and gentle.
The word “completely” gets me every time. There is no wiggle room, no loophole and no excuse not to be humble and gentle ALL THE TIME.
Consider this quote from Pastor Gavin Ortland: “If we would like to grow in humility, the place to start is at the cross. Christ’s humiliation is the death of all ego and swagger. There is no room for pride before the crucified Savior. And his exaltation gives us a greater glory to live for than our own. Heaven is roaring with his praise, and one day every knee will bow before him—what a waste to spend our talents on any lesser cause.”
Most of us probably consider humility an important virtue, but how many of us long to be gentle? Is it masculine to be gentle? Absolutely! Jesus is the model of strength mixed with gentleness. We see this all over the place in the Gospels.
I also have this image of an NFL offensive lineman cradling his newborn baby girl in his arms. Or any man holding an infant for that matter!
Our world needs strong men who use their masculine strength to love with gentleness. A lion, not a kitten, can exhibit gentleness because he is first strong. True gentleness is power that is kept in check as a man engages in a righteous cause.
Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
When my kids were young, Kathleen and I taught them that being patient meant “to wait nicely.” I’m still trying to learn how to wait nicely! However, Paul isn’t talking about being patient as it pertains to waiting on something. He’s talking about being patient with other people. This requires bearing with one another in love. It means putting up with people who might be rubbing you the wrong way. This is a tough one. I have to remind myself that I’m interacting with a child of the Most High God, and this person is precious in His sight. Regardless of what is making the situation difficult or challenging, I’m called to love that person.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
There is so much divisiveness in our world today. We tend to pick sides over just about everything, and anyone who holds a differing opinion or viewpoint is perceived as the bad guy. Many people have lost the ability to “agree to disagree” and still be friends. I had a woman tell me that she could never love someone who didn’t hold her same view on the need to defund the police. I was shocked. This woman loves Jesus, but she was drawing a line in the sand and her political opinions determined who was worthy of her love.
Paul is urging us to WORK at being unifiers and peacemakers. He tells us to “make every effort” to do so. If I’m honest, I’d rather work hard to win a disagreement. I put effort into shutting down opposing views.
I could talk about disunity all day long. But we, as followers of Christ, especially among our brothers and sisters in Christ, should make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. We should be unifiers and peacemakers. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have an opinion or should blindly agree with everyone. Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus had no problem engaging in challenging and difficult conversations with people who disagreed with him. But there is a right way to go about it. This brings me back to the first part of this passage.
If we want to be unifiers and peacemakers, we must be completely humble and gentle. And do you know what else we must be? We must be patient, bearing with one another in love.
These four verses are intertwined and create a virtuous circle. A posture of humility and gentleness will enable us to be patient and loving unifiers and peacemakers.
And this is what makes us worthy of the calling that we have received.