Yesterday we read in Ephesians 4:23-24
And…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and…put on the new self,
created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
We saw that by the renewing in the spirit of our minds, we are able to do things which do not come to us naturally. Returning to Ephesians 4:2-3, we find out how we can achieve the unity to which Ephesians 4 calls us by means of living out HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, PATIENCE, LOVE and PEACE.
The first step towards living together in unity is for each of us to become humble like Jesus was humble. Humility was not something looked highly upon during the time of Christ. The word here for humility is closely associated with a drooping flower or someone who is in the act of cringing in fear. Christ tells us, though, that he came to serve not to be served. Those who follow Him must also serve others. It means to put other people’s interests above your own. Humility is the basis of unity in the church.
One seeking to live in unity with others must constantly show gentleness. Gentleness does not mean weakness. Think of the example of a powerful horse. A horse is much stronger than any person. Yet, we long ago learned how to tame horses by placing a tiny bit in their mouths. With that bit, the horse comes under the rider’s complete control and all of his strength is applied to some good purpose. As our minds are renewed, it is God who takes control over us and makes us gentle in spirit.
Patience is the virtue that allows us to persevere. The word used here for patience was closely associated with the Roman army to mean “unconquerable.” The Romans considered themselves the greatest in the world, able to withstand any adversity. In the same way, godly patience gives us strength to face life’s difficulties, setbacks, and problems. William Barclay says that “Christian patience is the spirit which will not be broken by any misfortune or suffering, by any disappointment or discouragement, but which persists to the end.”
As Christians, we are to love each other in the same way that Christ loved us. This type of love goes above all emotions. This type of love does not consider what will be given in return. This type of love ignores whatever wrongs have been committed. It is the kind of love that has nothing but the absolute good in mind for the other person.
When Paul talks about a bond of peace in verse 3, he is referring to getting ourselves into right relationships. This means that we have nothing wrong between each other that can cause us to be upset. Christ offers us peace with God by giving us a right relationship with Him showing us how to have the same sort of relationship with other people. He did this through sacrifice of Himself on the cross. Here is the key to have a right relationship with other people – self-sacrifice. When we die to ourselves and our lives begin come under the control of the Lord, we will find incredible peace between us and God and between us and other Christians.
Paul tells us that these five things – humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace – are the key to living together in unity.
Perhaps you don’t have unity in your family. Perhaps your church has some disunity within it that you could help to do something about. Consider what the Lord is speaking to you. Are there areas in your life where you need to let go of personal pride and become more humble.
Do you respond too harshly to circumstances?
Does the Lord want to help you be gentle instead?
Where can patience take root within your daily life?
Is there an area where you could better demonstrate a type of love
that has nothing but the interest of the other person at heart?
Do you want peace with God?