Every once in a while, I see a bumper sticker that says, practice random acts of kindness. Its a nice thought. However, in Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that there should be nothing random about how we treat each other as believers. Instead he tells us that we are to treat each other based on who we are in Christ and what we share together as the family of God.
The calling Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:1 is our new identity in Christ as a child of God. Having explained the nature of our new identity in the first three chapters, Paul begins chapter four with an admonition to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. As we will see in the rest of the chapter, walking in a manner worthy of our calling refers to treating each other in a way that demonstrates the love of God.
1. Our unity is to be preserved not achieved, vs. 1-6.
a. Our unity is supernatural, a gift of God through the work of Christ on the cross: man cant create it, but it is our responsibility to preserve it.
b. The character quality of our walk expresses the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (fruit of the Spirit).
humility, gentleness, w/patience (slow in avenging wrong);
tolerance (forbearance) with love (others faults dont turn you away)
c. Preserving the unity of the Spirit requires zealous effort.
being diligent: zealous effort, maximum concentration;
preserve unity of the Spirit: We start with unity through the Holy Spirit
Bond of peace: refer back to 2:14, for He Himself is our peace.
d. The basis of our unity is found in our common experience with Jesus at the cross.
v. 4: We share a common position: one body, Spirit, calling
v. 5: We share a common experience: one Lord, faith, baptism
v. 6: We share a common Father
2. Our diversity is God-given therefore it strongly suggests inter-dependence not independence, vs 7-16.
a. The great diversity of gifts given for the strengthening of the body (Church) with the purpose of building itself up in love
b. How we are gifted and the degree to which we are gifted was determined by Jesus, v. 7.
grace was given according to the measure of Christs gift
c. The variety of gifts and ministries are for a common purpose, vs. 13-16.
attaining the unity of the faith
speaking the truth in love
being fitted and joined together through our service
to build the body in love
3. Our lifestyle should reflect our Christ-like character not our fallen nature, vs. 17-24.
a. No longer treat each other like unbelievers.
b. Instead, lay aside the former ways and put on the new self, the likeness of God.
c. The renewal of our mind is the key to putting on the new nature.
4. Our treatment of others should reflect how Jesus has treated us, vs. 25-32.
Lay aside falsehood, vs. 25-28: be genuine people.
Edify one another, vs. 29: encourage, exhort, comfort.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, vs. 30, 31: the Holy Spirit is grieved when we dont get along.
Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven you, vs. 32
a. Forgiveness is the key, restoring and preserving the unity of the Spirit.
When we dont forgive, there is not only a separation between us and that person, but also between us and God.
Jesus said in Mt. 6:15, if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.
b. What does it mean to forgive?
Its a hard choice: we choose to forgive so the healing begins.
We confess how the offense hurt us; forgiveness is not pretending it didnt hurt or doesnt matter.
We release the offense to God to deal with it justly.
We continue to affirm our choice to forgive until God heals the wound.
We dont allow a forgiven offense from the past to effect our relationships of the present.
5. Our unity is preserved when we have the same kind of love for each other as Jesus has for us, Eph. 5:1.
Two opportunities when we come to the Lords Supper together:
a. We proclaim what unites us: the sacrifice of Jesus for our forgiveness.
b. We examine ourselves, 1 Corinthians 11: 28, which suggests that we repent of sin and choose to forgive.