Posted by: missionventureministries | November 16, 2016

BE HUMBLE, GENTLE AND PATIENT – KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT – Ephesians 4:2-3

ephesians-4-vs-2-3

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) 

How do we live a life worthy of the Christian calling? This verse tells us how – by being completely humble, gentle, patient and bearing with one another in love. These are powerful words; just think how many of those around us would want to change to become more Christ-like if we chose to react in a completely humble and gentle way?

Be completely humble.” Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God, therefore the Christian ought to emulate Christ’s example of meekness and humility: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

And gentle.” A gentle person has a sensitive disposition and a kind behavior prompted by love. Being gentle focuses on the way that we respond to people that we differ with or that are having a bad day.

Be patience.” Patience is a virtue and talked about throughout the Bible in the Old and New Testaments. According to 1 Samuel “lack of patience can cause you to miss blessings”. When we are patient, we will not so easily blow up or react against others. Instead, it allows us to exude a kind spirit in a difficult situation.

Bearing with one another in love.” We need to show forbearance to all through the power of Christ’s love. We are to be forgiving as He has forgiven us. It is basically a Christian grace in likeness to God. It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way. We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God’s family will not work against God’s purpose of bringing all things together in Christ. 

We need a commitment to love Jesus Christ above all things and to sacrifice all of our mini-agendas for His sake: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Anything else must take second place to the priority of living a life that reflects the love of Christ and models His humility and gentleness towards all who have put their trust in Him.  

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. The apostle Paul was a constant proponent of Christian unity, he knew that it will take effort and work to walk in unity.  

Paul makes a similar appeal in his first letter to the Corinthians. In verse 10 of chapter 1, he writes, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Similar words can be found in Philippians 2:2, and Colossians 2:2-3. Paul was constantly urging Christians to pursue unity! 

It is essential to realize that people do not create unity—God does. However; when God’s people are led by and filled with The Holy Spirit peace, humility, Christian love and unity becomes a reality. In Ephesians 4:3, Paul does not call us to ‘create unity,’ or ‘make unity.’ Instead he says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. True Christian unity originates in the unity of the Holy Trinity. This unity is given to the believer by the Father through the Spirit because of what Christ did for us at the cross. As Ephesians 2:22 promises, “And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”  

We must note that Christian unity is radically different from anything the world has to offer. Non-Christians can rally passionately and effectively around any number of causes, including political agendas, moral issues such as poverty or racism, or many other reasons. In contrast, Christian unity is not formed around a cause; it is centered on a Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. As we contemplate the immensity of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for us, as well as the glory of his deity, we should be inspired to pursue a unity that far outshines anything the world could possibly plan. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)  Christians must never accept the evil practices of this world’s Anti-Christ system for the purpose of a false “unity.”  

God has commanded His true children to expose evil in ever place – even in our churches. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) 

Unity requires a commitment to develop Christ-like character, especially humility and submission. Pride is the great enemy of unity. This is why so many passages in Scripture call for unity in the body of believers and also urge us to cultivate humility and mutual submission. Just before Paul calls us to unity in Ephesians 4:3, he urges us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2).  He warns us in Romans 12:3 – “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”. And in Philippians 2:3-4, Paul exhorts us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  

To maintain unity is a commitment to strive earnestly and prayerfully to pursue peace, resolve conflict, and preserve relationships despite personal differences. Having planted numerous Christian churches, the apostle Paul knew that conflict frequently threatened the unity and witness of local congregations. Therefore, most of his letters contain an exhortation such as that found in Ephesians 4:2-3: “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.” We must always be patient with true Christians who are still trying to develop their faith and understanding of God’s plan for joy, peace and victory in living the Christian life. 

Paul and other New Testament writers knew that Satan is always seeking to sow seeds of conflict, offense, and division in the body of believers, hoping to destroy our witness for Christ. As Paul teaches, the best way to stop these seeds of conflict from growing is to be humble and gentle toward those who irritate us, to patiently overlook minor offenses, to bear with those who disappoint us, and to lovingly correct those whose sins are too serious to overlook. There are some people that say that they are “brutally honest.” Satan uses these also, therefore when confronted with these types of people we should ask them – which aspect do you enjoy administering the most – the honesty or the brutality? Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3) 

One of the most beautiful descriptions of Christian unity is found in Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 

As this passage shows, true Christian unity can provide a powerful and appealing witness to the world. It reveals the redeeming and reconciling power of the Savior. It shows that relationships can withstand the disappointments and pains of daily life. Unity also enables the body of believers to resist the pressures of the world, to care for those in need, and to take the gospel to the whole world, (Matthew 28:19-20).

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