Apostle Paul calls us all to be like-minded… having unity in the spirit and the love of Christ in our hearts – being of one accord; encouraging the saints and demonstrating tender-compassion in humility of heart, towards one another. But mercy, truth and unity will only come when we have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship in the Spirit flowing through our inner beings – for it is only as we are fully surrendered, yielded to the Holy Spirit, that He is enabled to work in us, conform us, into the likeness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-6 J.B. Phillips New Testament
Christians should be at one, as God is one
4 1-6 As God’s prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Paul has written this letter to the Ephesians and God has preserved it for our reading so that we would learn who we are. God wants you to know who you are.
Each and every one of us an identity, and that identity has been given to you by God. Each and every one of us have been called to a great calling. We have been called to being something significantly more than mundane living on this earth.
Ephesians Chapter 3 covenanted that we are to display God’s wisdom and glory. This is what we have been called to do. We are chosen, redeemed, predestined, adopted, heirs, saved, and reconciled so that God would be glorified, and his wisdom would be on display. Ephesians 3:20-21 summarizes the calling. God would be glorified through us (His Body – the church) and through Jesus for all generations forever and ever. God being immeasurably glorified is our calling.
Ephesians 3:20-21 J.B. Phillips New Testament
20-21 Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be all glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!
Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1)
Our covenant calling is that God is glorified by people for all generations.
Therefore, Paul urges us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
If our purpose is to display God’s glory and God be glorified through us, then there is a particular way to covenant our lives for this calling. We do not get to be a Christian and act and behave how we want to act or do what we want to do. That is not our covenant calling. This walk is our response to all that God has done for us, which we read about throughout the first 3 chapters of Ephesians.
We are to live covenant lives reflecting this new identity. You and I have been called to something great and glorious. Walk worthy of it!
In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul condemned us because we were walking in a way that followed the ways of this world, following the plans of Satan, following the passions of our flesh, and carrying out the desires of the body and mind.
That is the former walk. Now you and I have a new walk. The new walk is not to go back carrying out your desires in your body and mind. The new walk is not following our passions. Our new walk is not following the ways of this world. Now you and I are to walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
Now Paul says something subtle, but very important in this first verse. Paul says, “I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord.” Paul starts there before he tells us to walk worthy of the calling. Why does Paul even bring up that he is a prisoner for Christ at this moment? Because we need to know up front, before we make a decision to follow in Christ’s covenant, our walking worthy is going to be costly.
Paul urges to walk in this way understanding that the walk is costly. You and I will not fit in with the world when we start making decisions for the sake of not ourselves but for all of those who God just declared have become our neighbors. Understand that trying to walk according to our calling is countercultural. How you will now behave is the opposite of what the world thinks is right or good.
The Character Which Brings Christian Unity (Ephesians 4:2)
Now, consider what you think would be the first command for walking worthy.
Of all the things God could command us first to consider in walking worthy of the calling, what do you think that command would be?
Read Ephesians 4:2-3. Notice the first point Paul makes is for Christian unity.
In verse 2 teaches us the character needed to maintain Christian unity.
Verse 3 gives us the charge to maintain this unity.
Ought that we should be overly surprised that the first quality Paul addresses for walking worthy is unity? Unity is very important to our Lord because a lack of unity can never bring any God glory. Disharmony wrecks God being glorified.
Paul begins with the attitudes necessary for unity. Too often there has been an attitude that we can have unity on doctrine alone. There is an attitude that as long as we agree that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, one Spirit, one hope, and one God and Father of all, then we can be ugly to each other, have poor attitudes, be rude, attacking, and the like and still have unity.
Much to the great grief of God, we have each seen and heard far too many times supposed Christians attempt to defend the gospel and defend the truth by being angry, vicious, slanderous, condescending, and sometimes even being deceitful.
I unfortunately experienced this when I was training to preach. A preacher from another church decided that what we were doing was wrong, primarily because we were teaching and preaching the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from a more traditional Bible Based approach and perspective. The ugly, hateful attitudes, words were just echelons beyond shocking and disappointing to me.
I want us to notice where Paul starts for Christian unity. “With all humility and gentleness with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
There cannot be any degree or measure of unity without these things. It does not matter how much doctrine we think we have right and correct. We have missed the gospel completely and do not know the calling to which we have been called when we are lacking humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearing.
Jesus exerted the power of God and defended the teachings of Christ without resorting to being ugly or hateful. I think we can get the idea of how we are to behave when we read humility, gentleness, and patience. People are going to say things and do things that are simply not right and unscriptural. We are to respond with humility, gentleness, and patience.
Any number of other Christians in the Body of Christ do not know what you and I know. They may not have studied the Bible as long as both you and I have.
They may not be as smart as you and I think you and I are. They may be confused on some teachings. They may have adopted some ideas that others have learned through culture have taught but are not found in the scriptures.
How are we going to handle important these things? A correcting response must be with humility, gentleness, and patience. Some of you simply will not accept some of the concepts from the scriptures I have taught while I have been studying and praying over the Scripture passages and writing these devotions.
How should I handle that? Should I be angry? Should I be more forceful with you? Should I put you down? Should I intimidate you? Should I make slanderous comments about you to you or to others? No! that’s very much wrong! When Christians are speaking, we must remember humility, gentleness, and patience.
If this was not enough, Paul says that we are to bear with one another in love. We are to endure patiently with one another because we love the soul of the person. We ought to love each other and will continue to work together without bitterness or anger. Think about how we talk to each other. Think about how we act toward each other. Think about each and every one of these things especially when we are too busy vigorously disagreeing. Why? Paul continues in verse 3.
The Charge To Maintain Christian Unity (4:3)
We are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Some translations rightly read that we are to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We are to desire unity and do all we can to continue it. Notice that we are not to create unity but to maintain it. We are to keep the unity that is already in existence that comes from the calling. We have been joined together in Savior Jesus Christ. Be eager to maintain that unity. Be diligent to maintain this unity. Make every effort to continue together in unity.
Consider: We do not have unity if it cannot be seen. Unity is not something that ought to be seen as only a concept. Unity is seen in behavior. A lack of unity in a marriage is evident. Unity in a marriage is evident. If we truly have unity in our marriage to Jesus Christ, then it will be evident. Peace is the bond that holds this unity together. We will see peace in our relationships and behaviors. We desire unity and will, by our marriage to Christ, make all effort to maintain that unity.
Look carefully at this image of a chain. Do you notice even for one hot fleeting moment the “red question mark” linking(?) the two ends of the chain together? This is not unity. Too often we think this is unity. Occasionally all the links sit in the same room. But this is not one chain. They are not unified. There is no unity. We do not have Christ-like unity unless we have participation and involvement.
As I have already said above,
The Apostle Paul calls us all to be like-minded… having unity in the spirit and the love of Christ in our hearts – being of one accord: encouraging the saints and demonstrating tender-compassion in humility of heart, towards one and another. But mercy, truth and unity will only come when we have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship in the Spirit flowing through our inner beings – for it is only as we are fully surrendered, yielded to the Holy Spirit, that He is enabled to conform us, into the likeness of Christ.
We have the mind of Christ – to think as He did; to speak as He did; to live as He did and to love all our neighbors and behave as He did. And so individually and collectively we have the means to walk and live and pray in spirit and truth.
In his letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul gives this vital challenge to all believers – IF we have received any consolation in Christ; if therefore we have any comfort of love; if therefore we have any fellowship of the Holy Spirit and if therefore, we have any bowels and mercies in Christ, we are to demonstrate this in our lives by being of one same mind. (Philippians Chapter TWO)
If we, as children of God, have received His goodness and grace, comfort and hope, hope and compassion, then we are to maintain the same goodness, grace, comfort and love and be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the body of peace. There ought to be no question marks between any two-chain links!
The challenge to all believers is to faithfully and committedly and prayerfully develop a Christlike character, demonstrating the same love that He displayed.
We are to be united in spirit and fervent in love – looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.
We are to walk worthy of this glorious calling we have been given. Walking worthy means being eager and making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. As we make this walk with Christ, let us place a much higher priority on coming together in Christ, a greater focus on unity.
First, let us be more patient with each other. Let us be gentler with each other. Let us be humbler, not thinking so much of our abilities or knowledge. Let us patiently bear with one another because of the love we have through Christ.
Second, let us be eagerly maintaining the unity which is to be found only through God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Unity is visible. Unity is not accidental. Unity requires us merging, weaving our lives together in God’s word regularly. Otherwise, we are individual links who have questionable proximity to one another proclaiming the “united chain” we are to be in Christ.
You will never see any question marks or any missing links between the link of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It can never ever exist!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, let us come together as One Body, “perfectly” united as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Heavenly Father I pray that I may show forth the grace of Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit – in thought word and deed towards all who are the called according to Your purpose, so that in unity of spirit we may honor Your name, through our earthly witness, in Jesus’ name I now pray, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.