October 20 I Saturday
2 Thessalonians 3
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” —Ephesians 4:2
Although the church is supposed to be a united body, the incredibly high number of church splits and denominations can make this seem an unrealistic goal. How, then, are we to maintain spiritual unity?
If the Christian life was merely a series of doctrines to stand for, there would be plenty of room for argument and division. But Paul writes in Ephesians 4:1, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” A better translation is that we are to walk worthily of our calling. God designed the Christian life as not merely a worldview but a walk where as we grow in intimacy with Him, the Holy Spirit transforms us into people who “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit...” (Ephesians 4:3).
Paul then lists four relational qualities we are to grow in as part of that walk. Firstly, there is humility, which is a disposition towards ourselves. The essence of humility is a heart willing to embrace lowness. It is not self-debasement but putting the focus on God, recognizing that all we are and all we have derives from Him and His grace.
Secondly, we are to be gentle, which is a disposition towards others. Regardless of whether we get along with someone or agree with their decisions, we are to be caring, considerate and understanding in our dealings with them. Thirdly is patience, which is a disposition towards our circumstances. Patience often involves people, but we also need it when we find ourselves in circumstances that are not working out as we want or plan. Having patience means trusting that in every situation, God will work out His good and perfect will in His time in His way.
Lastly, we are to bear with one another in love. There will be times we find it difficult to deal with other believers, hence why we need to be walking and progressing in humility, gentleness, patience and love. This is not growth with the expectation that we will reach a perfect state on earth but that we allow God to work in our lives so that these godly characteristics are being continually developed in us.
When disunity occurs, it is often because at least one of these four qualities are lacking or absent. If we find ourselves struggling to get along with others in the church, it is worth asking ourselves if we are humbly, gently, patiently and lovingly making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. When we each take that step back to reflect on our own hearts, we can begin dealing wholesomely with those issues that may be dividing us.
Prayer: Lord God, forgive me if I have caused division within Your church. Thank You for growing humility, gentleness, patience and love within me as I walk with You.