Bond of Unity in the Holy Spirit
by Duane Leach
The apostle Paul is not only a brilliant theologian, he is very practical in his instructions about how to apply the theology he teaches. Chapter four is the beginning of the application section of Ephesians and in verse 1 we read,
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul starts this section by telling the Ephesians that he’s not asking them to do something that would be beneath him. He has been an actual prisoner for the sake of the testimony of the Lord. He has the credentials to call on them to follow the Lord’s will. He knows that obedience can be costly.
He also has a pastor’s heart and exhorts them to apply what he has taught them about their election by God and His placement of them in the body. They, and we, must be serious to live lives that reflect that high calling. Having been placed in the local church as God willed, we are equipped by Him to accomplish what He intends.
We come from many different backgrounds and circumstances, often having very little in common, but we all have the same Holy Spirit indwelling us. He is the One who will enable us to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling.” The apostle is calling for two things that will be the result of such a walk; showing tolerance for one another and preserving the unity of the Spirit.
Tolerance of one another, motivated by love, will be necessary if we are going to maintain our unity. We’re going to have to overlook and tolerate things in others to be obedient. It sounds negative but if our motivation is love, it’s a positive thing.
Notice that we aren’t being asked to produce unity but preserve it.
The unity we have been given is supernatural, completely unlike anything the world can produce. In this case, at least, it’s easier to keep something you already have than to gain something you don’t have.
We are told to preserve what we have been given and we must do it with diligence. Diligence is defined as steady, earnest, and energetic effort. So, we must be prepared to work at it. How do we do that?
One very practical way is to be involved. We have been gifted spiritually so that we can build up our church. This isn’t a plea to teach a class or clean the bathrooms. Those things need to be done but there are other things of a different sort.
Nothing we do as a church will be as effective as it should be without prayer. Everyone can pray for the ministry.
How about not listening to gossip or having negative conversations about church matters? We could concentrate on obeying the “one anothers” with humility and gentleness.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all worked at being positive, offering encouraging words and building others up at every opportunity?