Verse of the Day Devotion Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.
Paul here begins a discussion regarding the importance of unity in the body of Christ. He starts by saying the following, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Ephesians 4:1. He is calling the church as a whole to walk in a manner worthy of the calling placed upon them. This calling is twofold. First, that the Church is to be composed of both Jews and Gentiles. There should be no holding one group above another but all are to be looked at equally. Paul also made this clear to the Church in Galatia. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-28. Everyone follower is equal in the eyes of Christ.
And second, the Church is a ‘holy’ people, set apart from the secular world, like Israel in Old Testament days, to belong to God. And this is the idea expounded on in this section of Ephesians. And how are we to walk worthy of our calling? “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3. And as theologian John Stott says, “Therefore, because God’s people are called to be one people, they must manifest their unity, and because they are called to be a holy people, they must manifest their purity. Unity and purity are two fundamental features of a life worthy of the church’s divine calling.”
The first thing Paul mentions is ‘lowliness’ or ‘humility’. This lowliness is essential for unity. Pride lurks behind all discord, while the greatest single secret of concord is humility. The idea is, if instead of maneuvering for respect from others, we give others our respect by recognizing their God-given worth. Through humility, we will be advancing harmony.
Next he adds ‘meekness’ to the picture. This is essentially kindness. It is mildness of disposition and gentleness of spirit. It is not a synonym for weakness. On the contrary, it is in essence the gentleness of the strong, whose strength is under control. It is the not asserting personal rights, either in the presence of God or of men. It is particularly appropriate in pastors and other church leaders who should also use their authority only in a spirit of gentleness. So, as you can see, lowliness and meekness form a natural union, for one cannot exist without the other. Another natural pair is the next two on the list, longsuffering and forbearing. Patience is longsuffering towards aggravating people, for example what God in Christ has shown towards us, while forbearing one another speaks of that mutual tolerance without which no group of human beings can live together in peace.
Then there is love, which embraces the other four, and is the crown and sum of all virtues, since to love is constructively to seek the welfare of others and the good of the community. Paul lays this out also to the Church in Colossae, where he wrote, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:12-14.
It is absolutely essential that we follow what Paul is saying here, loving everyone equally and working toward the unity of the body as Christ has called us to. I have seen too many churches where this has not been followed, and it has not worked out at all and is diminishing the impact to it’s members and the community around them as a whole. It is up to all of us to truly join the body of Christ together in the bonds of love through our humility and gentleness, with patience and forbearing. And when there is true unity, the world will see this and understand what this Christian life is all about.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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