I urge you to live a life worth of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. -Ephesians 4:1-3
Last Sunday this is the text our pastor preached about. It struck me in my ongoing journey to reconcile my anger that these verses appear to be the epitome of salvation, grace and right living in Christ. THIS is how I want to live my life, THIS is the example I want to set for Simeon. Not a heart of anger, not a life of impatience, but a gentle and humble spirit, patient and as the MESSAGE Biblical translation says to be
…”steadily pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love”
In researching this passage a little more, I have a learned a couple of things. To live a life “worthy of the calling you have received” is referring to the gift of grace we have been given through salvation. Paul is reminding me (us) that if God’s love is so amazing, his grace abounding, then we should as believers, live accordingly. EVERY believer, not just pastors and people in full time ministry, but EVERY believer. To add to this, the explanation of LIVING THIS LIFE OF CHRIST is mirrored in the attributes of humility, gentleness, patience, tolerant love, and peacekeeping. From the NIV Application Commentary regarding verse 2:
“Attention goes first to the ego and then to loving relations. An understanding of God’s work is always an attack on the ego, not to obliterate or humiliate the self, but to bring it into relation with God and to redirect its interests. In losing life we find it.”
The word translated “be completely humble” focuses on one’s thinking; it means “lowliness of mind” as opposed to haughtiness
“Gentleness” Paul uses both these words for gentleness to describe his own demeanor — a gentleness he says is characteristic of Christ.
“Patience” (makrothymia) is the exercise of a largeness of soul that can endure annoyances and difficulties over a period of time
The NIV’s “bearing with one another in love” sounds archaic and loses the force of the text. A more appropriate translation is “putting up with each other in love.” The Christian life is a life of putting up with other people, and this tolerance finds its ability and motivation in love (cf. Gal. 6:2). “Love” and “putting up with each other” are intertwined and mutually explanatory. Both are ways of valuing the other person.
“Love” (agape) enjoys the other person, but it does not exist for enjoyment. It is not a feeling or emotion, but an act of the will. It exists only in relation to specific people, and it is always costly. The focus on love is an extension of the emphasis on love in 3:17 – 19. That is, the love experienced in Christ must be extended to others. The noun agape was rarely used outside Jewish sources and the Christian writings. A few secular occurrences are now known, but clearly Christians injected the word with new content to talk about love in relation to God — first love from God, then also love for God and for other people because of God. This love does not have its origin in human motivation; it is a choice made because of the love of God.
The focus on ONE ANOTHER is significant. Living a Christ-centered life is about bearing with one another-particularly other Christians. Christianity is a God-directed, Christ-defined, other-oriented religion. Only with such direction away from self do we find ourselves.
In my search for a deeper understanding of Christ, my life, my attitude and my anger can not help but be changed. If I am truly, TRULY seeking HIS face, I will find Christ’s. I pray this for you in this day and in your life as you deal with your children, spouses, co-workers, and fellow Christians.