Ephesians 4 starts off with the word therefore. Whenever you read a therefore you must ask yourself, "What is it there for?" The Apostle Paul has taught in the book of Ephesians about the great spiritual blessings we received in Christ (Eph 1). Next he wrote about the barriers between God-Man and Man-Man that Christ broke down through the Cross (Eph 2). He takes a detour in chapter 3 to speak about his personal ministry and how it relates to this topic but he ends up in Chapter 4 teaching the practical implications of his previous propositions.v
The Apostle implores (read this as commands) them to walk worthy of their calling. Ok great! But how do we walk worthy? Well, first he gives us the sort of attitude we are to have:
- Humility--Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.
C.S. Lewis once said, "Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."
- Gentleness--Meekness is strength harnessed. I saw this in a man I knew named Tony. He was a big manly man whose grip could crush a telephone pole. But when you see how tenderly he handles his grandchildren you see meekness in action.
- Patience--We expect everyone to mature IN Christ as fast as we did (or so we think we did).
Next, Paul gives us the sort of actions we are to exhibit:
- Tolerating each other, in love--This is not a putting up with one another because you begrudgingly have to. The last phrase, IN LOVE, qualifies this as a virtue. It is more frequently demanded in our contact with others than almost anything else. Like a child we must allow the other one to build their playhouse in the manner they see fit, especially when it differs so greatly from our own and they do not see our playhouse blue prints as appealing to their own desires. For the time will come when we are building our own playhouse and we do not want the inconvenience of having to explain to someone else that we are completely content with the plans we’ve created without needing the input of others.
- Being Diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit--Notice that unity is already something we have. We do not have to achieve it, we only have to keep it. Should we unify for the sake of unity? Absolutely not. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, said, "And just as terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty."
Notice that unity has a basis. So with Christianity, Unity has a basis. The question now becomes, what is the basis that we are to unify with other believers? For how you answer that question will tell you who you need to divide with. And yes, the Bible does command us to divide with some so-called believers. That is a topic for our next blog. What do you think is the basis for our unity?