Study Notes

Ephesians 4:2-3


We are at a snail's pace at this point in our study of the book of Ephesians, because there is so much good stuff to chew on. As chapter three ended and chapter four began, Paul said, "Because God is to be given glory in the church, among all of us corporately, and in each of us individually, I ask you as a friend to make sure that your Christian walk is of the same weight as your Christian calling."

This morning, we won't complete the thought yet, but we will at least finish Paul's sentence. Let's read verse one to see the first part of that sentence:

Eph. 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called

4:2-3 While You

Paul is focusing in on the unity of the Body of Christ, and in our verses this morning, he is saying, "While you are walking worthy of your calling, please be mindful of your relationships with the other folks in the church."

And I think this message is really timely for our church locally. Because the larger this congregation grows, the greater the odds that you will find yourself face to face (or pew to pew) with people that you won't get along with. Maybe next Sunday, you find yourself sitting next to the guy from work - the one guy at work that you really don't like. Or the woman who dented your car in the mall parking lot a few months ago. "What's she doing at MY church?" Maybe someone you've gone head to head with in the past is here this very Sunday, or someone that you have no history with, but you just plain didn't like from the first time you set eyes on them. The more we grow as a church, the more we're going to be challenged to grow as churchgoers.

Paul is giving us a list of things to be aware of and working on: humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

1) Humility

Humility is a funny thing. It means to have a humble opinion of yourself - it is the opposite of pride. The Bible warns that someone should not...

Rom. 12:3 ...think more highly of himself than he ought to think...

But in our minds, we say, "Fortunately, my degree of greatness means that I couldn't possibly think more highly of myself than I ought to!" Or, "I'm actually very proud of how humble I am."

Of course we know that God hates pride. And we can understand that, because who can be proud before God? Not one of us. But we're talking this morning about humility in the church body. And to be perfectly honest, it is really easy to be proud when you're among human beings. Because most human beings cannot come close to measuring up to our opinion of ourselves. In our minds, we're better looking, we're smarter, funnier, more informed, and of more value in the world than most other people. I think, "I've got a great voice," but then I hear myself on tape. I think, "I play so well," but then I hear a recording. I think, "I look so good," but then I see a photograph. Have you ever wondered how "the camera adds ten pounds?" It's just putting back the ten pounds that our minds remove when we look in the mirror!

Saints, in reality, we're all very much the same. And if we would take our minds off of ourselves, and start appreciating the great things about others, then we would be walking in humility.

Phil. 2:3 ...with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself


Next on Paul's list is gentleness, being gentle to one another. We're so brutal at times, mowing others down. But God has set the standard for us:

Isa. 40:11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Our God treats us gently, He speaks to us in the sound of a gentle blowing, a still small voice (1Kings 19:12, KJV & NAS). The Lord Jesus Christ is our example, and He said,

Matt. 11:29 "...learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart..."

"But Lord, certainly I don't have to show gentleness to people that are in sin, right? I can really mow them over, correct?" Even when dealing with those that have sinned grievously,

Gal. 6:1 who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...

"But what about people who are complete numbskulls, who won't get it if I'm gentle with them? I can't get my point across being gentle to them!" But again, it is written of Jesus our high Priest that...

Hebr. 5:2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided...

Whoever it is, whatever the situation, gentleness. Even in conflict, the proverb says,

Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

To be perfectly honest, gentleness is far from second nature for me - I'm much better at the wrath and anger than the gentle answer. So Paul says that gentleness it is something that needs to be pursued (1Tim. 6:11).


Third on the list: patience. Ouch. James said that people will always try our patience.

James 5:9-11 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and {is} merciful.

It's easy to lack patience when dealing with people - even people in the church. Look at Job's "friends." With friends like that, who could have patience? Look at the prophets - they preached to God's people, but God's people tried their patience too.

Job endured. The prophets endured. They did it through patience. Now, you know that it's an old saying among Christians, "Don't pray for patience!" Their thinking is that God will send all kinds of trials and difficulties to give you patience. But in reality, life tests our patience! Just about every circumstance and situation, every interaction with other human beings, and yes, even those in the church, test our patience. I do pray for patience, hoping that God will grant it to me, so that when the tests come, I am equipped.

Forbearance In Love

Fourth, show forbearance in love. Forbearance means "enduring." In other words, sometimes people in the church have to be endured. "But Lord, how can I put up with such an annoying person? Such an abrasive personality? Such a troublemaker?" And His response is "love." Jesus said,

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you."

Jesus loves us. He has put up with so much from us. And He has never left nor forsaken us, even when we were unbearable to be around. Now, He's telling us to do the same with one another. Endure in love...

1Cor. 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

When you refuse to show forbearance, you're refusing to love, and rejecting Christ's commandment.

Being Diligent

Saints, if we are diligent in these things, unity will be preserved, and peace will continue to bind us together. Devote yourselves to them. Be humble - exalt other people in the church. Be patient with people in the church - because others are probably being patient with you. Show forbearance - endure difficult people in love, because for all you know, you might be the one that someone else is enduring. When unity is achieved through peace, we understand the Bible's words,

Rom. 12:5 ...we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

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