Even More Reason to Be Humble, Gentle, Patient, and ForbearingDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 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.
God has called us to be his people, his beloved children. He has also called us to participate in his creative, redemptive, and restorative work. According to Ephesians 4:1, we are to live our lives worthy of this calling. This means, in the first place, that we are to be humble, gentle, and patient, "bearing with one another in love" (4:2). Moreover, as we learn in verse 3, we are to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
In order to render this passage into readable English, the translators of the NIV turned verse 3 into a separate sentence. In the original Greek, however, it is part of the sentence that begins in verse 1. A more literal translation would be: "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
This last phrase, "making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" further explains the importance of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance. If a Christian community is going to be unified, in reality and not just in theory, then its members will need to be humble, gentle, and patient. They will need to put up with each other. We begin to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit," not by grand pronouncements, nor by focusing on the oddities of others, but rather by acting humbly, gently, patiently, and tolerantly.
Thus, we are motivated to live out our calling in the ways of verse 2, not only because such behavior is worthy of our calling, but also because we are eager to see our Christian community united. Our zeal for true, embodied Christian unity moves us to live out the Christ-like qualities of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you zealous for the unity of God's people? If so, why? If not, why not? What makes it hard to be committed to such unity? How might you live today in a way that contributes tangibly to the unity of the church?
PRAYER: Gracious God, I must confess that sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and give up. Your church can be so divided and your people so divisive. We can fight over small things, not to mention major items of theology and ethics. We can gossip and complain and quarrel. And when I say "we," Lord, I include myself. You know this. So when I look at your church and even myself, it can seem like unity is just a pipe dream.
But Christian unity is not a pipe dream. It is something created by your Spirit. It is something essential to your plan to restore this broken creation. It is something to which your Word calls me to be zealous. Help me, I pray, to yearn for the unity of your church. Help me, by your Spirit, to act and speak so as to unify your people. Keep me from behavior, words, and attitudes that shatter unity and foster division. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.