As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ep. 4:1-3)
In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul, writing from prison, explains to the Church at Ephesus the importance of unity, urging people ‘to live a life worthy of the calling you have received’ (v1). In living that life worthy of our calling, there are some basic guidelines that Paul provides to enable us to so. These guidelines are outlined in verse 2 and 3 of Chapter 4 and include:
Humility or lowliness means having a humble opinion of yourself. Not seeing yourself as more important than others. Valuing others as Jesus values others.
Gentleness can also mean mildness or meekness. It is not a quality of weakness, but power under control. Jesus himself was ‘meek and lowly of heart’ (Mat 11:29), but He also drove the money changers out of the temple.
The idea here is of forbearance or long-suffering. Being slow to anger. None of us are perfect and we often sin against one another. Maintaining unity is not possible unless we are willing to understand and forgive each other’s imperfections.
4. Bearing with one another in love
This is similar to patience, but by bearing Paul is referring to sustained or endured patience which is made possible through ‘love’. The love referred to here is the definition of love that is often referred to at weddings and that is a ‘love that suffers long… is not proveoked (1 Cor. 13 4-5)
Effort or endeavour is often something that does not come naturally to us, nor does maintaining unity. These are things that we have to continually work at.
Only by diligently working at each of theses five virtues, can we hope to maintain ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’. (Ep. 4:3)