Ephesians 4:2-3 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
Last time we saw that the real battle is over relationships, how we live is the fight beginning with humility moving to gentleness which is connected to:
Be patient with each other or bearing with one another in love. Often we will pray for patience yet in reality it is the outflow of the attitude of humility (putting others before ourselves) coupled with the action of gentleness (power under control). Patience removes the word “but” from our vocabulary, the word we use to defend our impatience and lack of tolerance. “But if you knew how annoying they were.” “But she did it first!” “I would, but you don’t understand how I have been wronged.” Jesus reflected humility, gentleness and patience with the woman He healed with the bleeding issue in Luke 8:42-48. Having secretly touched him she was physically healed yet Jesus stopped to talk with her, why? For 12 years the law had declared her unclean leaving her relationally isolated, alienated from love, her illness didn’t just leave her with a physical burden, she was financially bankrupt and emotionally broken. What she needed wasn’t just physical healing but someone who would give her the time of day and touch her emotionally empty life. What did Jesus need? To get going so he could see Jairus’ sick daughter who was dying. Whose need was more important to the Savior? The Savior saw her need and served her need before His own and He did it with gentleness. Jesus attitude of humility tied to the action of gentleness reflected patience with the people around Him. The very pretext for these traits is that there is something or someone to be patient towards, we don’t have to bear with those who are easy to get along with. I don’t have to be patient with a person who does what I want them to do. God is not going to pat me on the head for my ability to respond well to others who walk in a manner worthy of his calling. Adding to the call we are challenged to be patient and bear with each other “in love.” I can exercise patience when not caught off guard, and if the humility part doesn’t trip me up then the “in love” part usually does. The truth is that patiently enduring the annoying traits of others often builds up our sense of superiority. But to be patient in love and humility means I actually have to care about others; I actually have to regard their interests as greater than my own. I actually have to love them, even to the point of being thankful for the opportunity to show loving patience. I actually have to see such opportunity to practice patience in humility and gentleness and love as opportunity to walk in a manner worthy of my great calling. Often our agendas and sense of importance leave us blind to the need of those around us. Yet Jesus surrounded by the crowd with the pressures of time and expectation not only felt the touch of the woman but had time for her.
The final admonition, “being eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. This is what the Apostle Paul has been leading up to, and one could say, what the whole epistle is about, unity. We can see hints of it in chapter 1 in what is said about Christ: “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (v. 10). Chapter 2 reminds us of the wall of hostility being broken down between Jew and Gentile in Christ: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (vs. 14-16). How eager should we be to maintain unity? Consider what Jesus prayed for in His final recorded prayer to God the Father: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23). He said that the world would take notice based on the unity, the oneness that we demonstrate. The cross not only reconciles man to God it also reconciles man to man. Today there are many who say but Christians can’t even get along so why should I believe? How can we bear witness to such work if we will not demonstrate it? Unity matters, we have to be eager and exercise, today we are not eager for unity and we do not want to exercise humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in love. So how do you measure up? If these verses present the traits of walking in a manner worthy of your calling, do you feel like you are walking the walk with all humility and gentleness; with patience and bearing with another in love; eager to maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace? What an immense calling, one in which we can feel pretty small as we measure ourselves against God’s standard. We must remember that the key to our calling is humility, when you are humble, you don’t feel threatened, so you are able to exercise gentleness. Through humility, you are not encumbered with pride that keeps you from being patient with others. Because of humility you understand that you are as messed up as anyone else so you see the need to bear with the faults of others. Humility allows us to get out of the way instead of trying to get our way. What about you do you desire unity will you respond and lead a life worthy of your calling?