In order for us as the church to continually bring glory to God generation after generation, we must be united. Remember that His purpose was that all be one in Christ. In God’s Great Plan, we are not only reconciled to God, but are reconciled to each other! To not live that unity out in our “faith communities” is to be demonstrating the opposite of what we are to be. According to Paul, this unity is accomplished in two ways: (1) by the way we live together in community, and (2) by being united in the doctrine provided by the Holy Spirit. In this article we will look at how the fruit of the Spirit in believers makes and maintains unity.
“…Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1b-3)
- The night before His death, Jesus told His disciples that loving one another will be the great mark of those who are His disciples – John 13:34-35
- Unfortunately, throughout Christian history… and even in our day… believers seem to mostly give just lip service to this command from our Lord.
- What Paul is going to teach the Ephesians in Ephesians 4:2-3 is what love really looks like! Unity is not merely a matter of agreeing on doctrine; without deep and active love among believers, the doctrine makes little difference.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER:
- In John 13 Jesus during the Supper shows His disciples just how much He loved them by washing their feet! Then commanded them to love one another in the same way He had just shown His love for them.
- I Corinthians 13 – the great passage on what real love looks like – is Paul’s defining chapter on what love of brethren looks like.
- Back here in Ephesians 4, he will describe this love in four simple terms:
- bearing with one another
- These are all part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the “Christian graces” (II Peter 1:3-11)
- Now let’s look at teach one of them.
- Consider the different translations here: “all lowliness” (KJV), “completely humble” (NIV), “all humility” (NASB, ESV)
- In the Greek it is preceded with “pas” which means “complete, total or all”
- Then our word is actually a compound of two Greek words: “tapeinophrosune“; tapeinos means “lowly, low estate” and phronsune (or phren) means “mind, spirit”. Other passages where it also describes a believer’s heart or mind are Acts 20:19; Philippians 2:3; Colossains 3:12; I Peter 5:5.
- The emphasis of “all humility” is not on physical groveling or obeisance, but rather on the attitude of the mind and heart of total humility with others.
- It seems to me the “all” (KJV, NASB, ESV) or “completely” (NIV) goes both with the humility as well as the gentleness or meekness Paul speaks about. And I think his emphasis is that we are to be humble all the time and gentle with others all the time!
- This humility and meekness are descriptive of the Lord Himself – Matthew 11:29 (“meek and lowly”) – so this is being Christlike.
- This quality is also used by Jesus in His Beatitudes in Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek…”
- William Barclay described meekness in 4:2 this way: it “is the man who is kindled by indignation at the wrongs and the sufferings of others, but is never moved to anger by the wrongs and the insults he himself has to bear. So, then, the man who is (as in the King James Version), meek is the man who is always angry at the right time but never angry at the wrong time.” – William Barclay, Daily Study Bible: Ephesians.
- Greek “makrothumia” means “long” + “flame, passion, or wrath”
- It is one of God’s characteristics – Romans 2:4; II Peter 3:15
- Again, I recall that Barclay said that patience never gives up or gives in; it will not be broken by any misfortune or suffering.
- I read somewhere that John Chrysostom, a great preacher around AD 400, said patience is “the spirit which has the power to take revenge, but never does so.”
BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE:
- Greek “anechomai” is used about 14 times in the New Testament. It is variously translated as “put up with,” “bear with,” “tolerate,” and “endure.”
- Obviously it is a companion to “patience.”
- Love causes the believer to endure the mistakes, failings, immature actions or words, etc. of their brothers and sisters without anger, retaliation, or even sharp words.
- We often think of unity as being uniformity of doctrine and practice.
- Paul begins by reminding us that loving one another and putting others before self (see Philippians 2:1-4) is the real beginning point of unity.
- This is how we will truly bring glory to God; it is something every one of do by our mindset and interaction with each other.
- We are in the “school of Christ,” being tutored by Him on how to bring glory to God.
Our image comes from the www.freepik.com service, where we have a premium paid account.