1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Reading this passage today got me fired up. Why, you may ask? BECAUSE WE DON’T DO IT! If we were to look at a military organization, (this is my easiest analogy since I was in the military) it wouldn’t take long to figure out how effective of a unit they are just by observing how they act toward each other. If they were constantly fighting, arguing, telling each other they are wrong…it would be obvious that they are not a good team and that in combat, they are probably ineffective. In fact, they probably have a higher likelihood of being shot and killed in battle because their hearts aren’t into it for each other, but rather for themselves. I think we all know that a team that doesn’t work together is ineffective and becomes a liability.
Why does the body of Christ act this way? I’m guilty of it myself. We look at other churches (meaning Christian organizations who meet in a building regularly) put out the message that they are right and everyone else is wrong? I think they will have a rude awakening when Christ returns. We must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In verse 1, Paul is talking about acting according to the calling with which you have been called. The three chapters before this he has been talking about this calling, which is to be filled with the power of the Spirit and spread the Gospel of God’s love to the world. We can’t do that if we are at odds with each other, can we? I realize that as I say these things, there seems to be an unspoken element hanging over me. Maybe you haven’t picked up on it yet: what do we say to people who are wrong? Paul tells us this in verse 2.
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love. There is a loving way to correct someone. I think it’s easy for us to forget where we have come from. As far as enlightenment and understanding goes, if we look back upon our own lives we see clearly that we were more ignorant in the past than we are now. Everyone’s past looks that way. We don’t all progress similarly because we all have a different calling, a different path to take. We have different lessons to learn to prepare us for the future. It’s not like high school where everyone learns the same thing. It’s more like college where some people will learn the same things but at different times at different rates. Some students when compared side by side learn completely different curriculums. It’s the same with our faith and our walk with God.
God wants us to love each other unconditionally, united with one Spirit. It’s not about telling someone they are wrong, it’s about telling them what you have learned, in love, patience, humility, and gentleness. Nobody likes to be told that what they believe is wrong. Regardless of what we think we know, we aren’t in charge of someone’s beliefs. We need to remember that God is in control of that. All He calls us to do is share the truths He has revealed to us. This actually strengthens our team, the Body of Christ. If the hand constantly punches the leg, eventually that leg is going to be bruised and worn out and the body cannot walk properly. So too we should consider how we treat each other. It’s not about wrong and right, it’s about unconditional love.
Sometimes we get caught up in talking about loving others, referring to those outside our tight knit group of believers that we forget our charge is to love everyone not just those we don’t know.
Who is someone you know that you can love better? Who is someone you are at odds with that you have the opportunity to show unconditional love, the love Christ has shown you? If today was your last day on earth, wouldn’t you want to show them that love?