Ephesians XII: Walking in Unity - Ephesians 4:1-3

The Psalmist says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” And for the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-3, walking in unity is the heart of what it means to follow Jesus in a manner worthy of the Lord’s calling. When Christians love each other by walking in unity, that’s how God demonstrates to the heavenly powers that He is uniting all things in Christ, which is what Paul has been explaining in Ephesians 1-3. Everything has led up to the Church, and all eyes are fixed on her to see the gospel in action: if her saints live as one, then it is obvious to everyone that God’s reconciliation power is at work in the Church.

This means that it is utterly essential to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, or else the Church will fail to walk in a worthy manner. In these three verses, Paul says a lot about the manner in which we walk in unity, which has to do with Christian character, as well as the means by which we walk in unity, which has to do with our actions and how we treat one another.

The first step of walking in unity involves cultivating Christian character. Walking worthy means walking in humility, gentleness, and patience. These are not doctrinal commitments that become yours simply by reciting a creed, nor are they one-time activities that you can check off your list. They are virtues that need to characterize your entire life, or else you will find yourself contributing to the breakdown of unity through an arrogant, rough, or impatient spirit. Our calling as Christians depends on humility and gentleness, and so there is nothing is more damaging to unity than when these virtues are absent.

The reality is that there are very few problems in the Christian life that cannot be solved if all parties approach the table with humble, gentle, and patient hearts, committed to love and peace. On the flip side, there is no issue too trivial to tear a Church apart if people discuss it pridefully, harshly, and angrily. Godly character is essential to unity, so walk in humility, gentleness and patience.

That’s the manner of our unity; the means of our unity are found when Paul tells us to bear with one another and to be eager to maintain our unity. These are the two main actions that keep unity in good working order: forbearance, refusing to be angered and annoyed by your brothers and sisters, and peacemaking, actively seeking to reinforce the bond of peace that holds you together. In other words, be slow to take offense, and be quick to strengthen ties.

And here are two wonderful sentences that will help you do that: when it comes to forbearance, you should say this a lot: “He probably didn’t mean it that way.” Give your brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt; put their words and actions in the most favorable light possible. You already know how to do this, because this is what you always demand other people do for you! When people are upset with you, don’t you want the chance to say, “This is what I meant? This is what I was trying to do?” Give that chance to others. Bearing with one another in love means constantly extending others the judgment of charity.

The second sentence is this: “I’m praying for you.” Regular prayer strengthens the bond of peace. The more you have prayed for and with someone, the more you know, love, and trust them, and the harder it is to think evil of them. The word translated “eager” in v. 3 is describing an active pursuit of something, not a passive just-in-case attitude. Satan is constantly trying to break the bond of peace; you must be active in making it stronger by loving and serving your brothers and sisters, and one of the most basic and fundamental ways to do this is to pray for them.

You are called to walk this way towards one another because this is what God did for you in Christ. And you should be encouraged that you are not called to create the unity of the Spirit; God has already done that for you in Christ. What you are called to do is to maintain it, to continue to walk in the path that Jesus has already laid out for you through His own life, death, and resurrection. Follow His steps; His humility, His gentleness, and His patience, knowing that He bears with you in love, and has eagerly given you His Spirit to forge an unbreakable bond of peace with you. So walk with Jesus, and walk in unity with one another.

Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2019 by CJ Bowen