Written By: Crystal Cyr
Ephesians 4: Love that Unites
As we look at Ephesians 4 we see that in verse one it begins with the word “therefore”, meaning that everything in this chapter hinges on the previous chapters. What a perfect way to conclude our look into these first four chapters of Ephesians; with a summary and a challenge! 🙂
If you’ll recall in Chapter 1 we learned that we have received a new identity in Christ when He chose and adopted us into His family, and as with any family, we have been given an inheritance of His Holy Spirit. His Spirit changing us more into His likeness every day is our proof that one day in eternity we will receive that inheritance in full. In the next chapter we were urged not to take the gift of our salvation for granted, or to become prideful and religious by comparing ourselves to others; these things keep us from unity, rather than building it. Last week in Chapter 3 we then looked at how because of our position with Christ we can be bold and confident before Him and not only that, but we have access to unlimited resources and strength in Him. We looked at how our roots grow and cause us to become strong in Christ as we allow Him to have access to more areas of our heart and as we go deeper in His love by understanding it with our minds and by experiencing it’s power displacing our fears.
The central message of Chapter 4 is on unity and getting rid of the old ways of life. We can only talk about unity and getting rid of old behaviors when we are confident in our position with Christ, that He is pleased with us (not always our behavior…but He separates that from us as a person and is pleased with WHO we are); when we remember to be thankful for our gift of salvation and not get puffed up thinking it’s because of anything awesome we did to deserve His forgiveness, but only because of what He did; and when we are constantly digging our roots deeper into the love of God, allowing it into every area of our thoughts, motives, hurts, and intentions to transform us, heal us, and strengthen our trust in His loving nature.
Verse 2 – 4 says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. (3) Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (4) For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” I know there’s so much in this chapter to cover, but I think that if we were to really chew on this verse over and over and allow it to become a part of us daily that the rest of the instructions wouldn’t be as much of a challenge.
Speaking for myself here, I know that more times than I’d care to admit I’ve been guilty of allowing other’s faults and weaknesses to cause division in my heart rather than unity. I’m not talking about sin here; when it comes to sin in other believer’s (not the world, which is clearly in sin) we are to “speak the truth in love” as verse 15 says (because love sees that sin causes destruction and hurt) Seeing the weak areas in other’s is easy, in fact, sometimes we can almost pride ourselves on it and call it “discernment”…whoops…stepping on toes maybe…but hey I’m just being real with you guys…and I only say it because like I said…”guilty”…but being humble, gentle, and patient…that takes the Spirit of Christ in me to do…to keep my love tank open to those other believers when I see areas that they’re weak in and I’m not.
Can you imagine how strong the body of Christ would be if instead of criticizing each other’s weak area’s we were to be patient with them and allow room for each other to grow in our giftings, callings, or general life? Do you think that perhaps maybe, just maybe, as we cover each other in love…valuing unity and each other above our glaring weaknesses, we could bring each other into further unity because instead of living in a culture of fear (fear of other’s seeing my weaknesses/mistakes/judging me) we would be living in a culture of love that build’s trust, causing us to desire to confront our own weaknesses because we know our brother’s and sisters aren’t waiting to jump on them and attack us, but rather to help and love us into strength.
This is why verse 22 – 24 says to, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” Loving each other and keeping unity is a tall order, and because of that it is only possible when we throw off our old sinful nature and allow the Holy Spirit within us to give us new thoughts and attitudes.
The chapter goes onto discuss the old things we are to get rid of, but I’d like to end by reminding us that when this task of loving can seem overwhelming we need only remember the patient love of our Heavenly Father towards us, who continues to love and believe the best in us even when we are at our worst. As verse 31 and 32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.“
Thank you for joining me in this study. It’s truly been an honor and a privilege to walk through the Word of God with each of you and to allow it to change our hearts.
Until Next Time,