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Eager to Maintain Unity

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Eager to Maintain Unity

Sunday, March 9, 2008

" 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." (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV)

1. As we saw last week, It all starts with Humility. Everyone knows that Christians should be humble. Humility is the opposite of pride or self-assertion. If we are saved "by grace … through faith … not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8–9), it is evident that Christians cannot be proud. We are to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility are to consider others better than ourselves," as Paul says in Philippians 2:3. Our only protection against pride, and our only source of humility, is a proper view of God. Pride is the sin of competing with God, and humility is the virtue of submitting to His supreme glory.

2. Gentleness. In the older versions this is called meekness, but for us "gentleness" is probably better, simply because meekness is so generally misunderstood. To most, meekness suggests weakness. But that is not the idea at all.

3. Patience. It takes time to learn patience, and unfortunately one of the chief ways we learn it is through suffering. Another valid translation of the word “patience” is “long-suffering,” which means “suffering long.” It is what God does with us. He suffers long with us; if he did not, there would be no Christianity. Therefore, we ought to suffer long or be patient with each other.

4. Bearing with one another. The suffering aspects of patience come out clearly in this next Christlike characteristic, but there is a difference. This one relates specifically to trials we have as a result of uncharitable conduct toward us by other Christians. Paul’s answer is that we are to endure the wrong, suffer the slight. Thus, we are to demonstrate a way of life superior to that of the ungodly world and show the special unity which is ours in Jesus Christ.

5. Unity. The fifth characteristic is that believers are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v. 3). It is evident at this point, in case we had missed it before, that each of these characteristics is related to the others, by the fact of them be grouped together.

6. It is important to say two things about this unity. First, it is “the unity of the Spirit,” which means that it is a unity the Holy Spirit has already given to those who are in Christ. This is a wonderful and often a very visible thing. Secondly, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

" If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality." (Colossians 3:1-25, ESV)

GracePointe Baptist Church

2209 N Post Road

Oklahoma City, OK 73141

Phone: (405) 769-5050

http://www.gracepointeonline.com

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