Christian Unity and Forgiveness

Ephesians 4v1-6&31, 32

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

I’m often surprised at the lack of commitment in the Church regarding what we read in this chapter. This often leads to conflict and destructive situations.

The Scripture was written not only to be heard, but to be obeyed.

Paul is a prisoner, probably in great discomfort. Yet, we see him expressing a great burden for the Church. He uses the word ‘urge’ – it’s of great importance. He is laying out core concepts for the faithful in Christ Jesus (not only at Ephesus).

What is the urgency that Paul has? It is how we walk – everything we do on a daily basis – worthy of the calling that believers have, to be disciples of the Lord. If a Rabbi called his students had to leave their lives and follow him eventually walking as he did.

Four characteristics in verse 2:
a. Humility – considering ourselves in a lowly way. It is to recognise that all that I have come from God, not me. From Him, through Him and to Him are all things (Rom. 11). Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15).
b. Gentleness – gentle strength – refrain from using it to do harm. Jesus was meek, even though He had great power. He could have justifiably use His strength to mete out judgement on those who opposed Him. We too must refrain from using our power against people who offend us (see Is. 52).
c. Patience – being slow to anger – opposite of being quick tempered. Those who are born of God love (1 John).
d. Bearing with one another in love – still bearing up even after going through a process of forgiveness – being even more forgiving. We need God’s grace for this.

Eager in verse 3 means to make every effort to maintain/safeguard unity in the Holy Spirit (see Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in John 17). The opposite is to procrastinate. Unanimity means that all are in agreement. How is it possible? The following words (verses 4-6) say that it is possible.
We are all members of one another, wrought about by regeneration, joined with the Lord Jesus Christ – absorbed in His body. The members of His body are not to be at odds with one another.
Unity is accentuated by the repetition of the word ‘one’.

Verse 31 is the negative side of the coin, talking about things that need to be put away to preserve unity. If some of these things are present in our lives, my prayer is that we overcome it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 32 is all about forgiving one another as God has forgiven us, like the servant who owed a massive debt for which his master forgave him. He is asking us to show the same kind of love and forgiveness for the body of Christ.