The key to unity is humility. When we are proud and self-centered, we have conflict in our homes, churches, and schools. But when we put God and others before ourselves, we find peace. When God saves people, His Holy Spirit convicts them of sin and gives them repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. They turn from living for themselves to living for God by the power of the Holy Spirit inside them. This holy “calling” from God brings Christians from death to life, from darkness to light. The Spirit gives us the power “walk worthy” of our new identity in Christ, and the first sign of our new walk is humility before God and each other. As we learn to fix our minds and hearts on Jesus each day through Bible reading, prayer, and obedient faith, we find that we really love other Christians. We learn to bear with other believers’ shortcomings and sins because our walk with Christ keeps us aware of our own faults and how often we need God’s forgiveness and grace in our own lives.
Of course we fail and mess up. Every day, we have moments and maybe long stretches of time where our old sin natures can rise up and we take our eyes off Jesus. Remember that Ephesians is written to Christians, so the fact that Paul is encouraging believers to stay humble and unified is proof that true Christians can lose their way and slide back into pride and selfish fighting. But whenever we realize that has happened, the Holy Spirit inside us will bring conviction. We will feel that gnawing sense of guilt that our sin has hurt our relationships with God and others. What do we do? We repent and trust in the Lord! We confess our sin to the Lord, who is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), and we apologize to those whom we’ve hurt. It might be painful, but repentance (turning away from sin) and faith (turning to God) is the only way to bring true healing and peace to broken relationships, including restoring our fellowship with God. When we are right with God again, we return to joyfully loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. We remember that we are all part of the same body of Christ, that we all serve the same Father by the power of the same Holy Spirit, and that we were all baptized in the name of the same Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior forever. May the Lord keep us humble and together through our shared faith in Him.
The Text (Ephesians 4:1-6)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Questions to Think About
- What evidences of humility can you see in your life because of your faith in Christ?
- How can your family, friends, and teachers help you in your struggles with pride and selfishness?
- Why do think that unity is so important for Christian communities like our churches and NRCA?
- The word “calling” in verses 1 and 4 is used a lot in Paul’s letters to the churches. In almost all of these uses, the apostle is talking about the action where God first brought the gospel home to our hearts so that we could feel guilt over our sin, repent, and turn to Him for salvation. He “called” our hearts and we answered by surrendering our lives to Jesus. Before our salvation, we may have “heard” the general call of the gospel being preached in church, Bible class, or chapel. But the gospel did not have an effect on our souls until that day when the light bulb went off and we first realized – “I am a lost and sinful person who desperately needs Jesus!” Once that effectual calling took place (i.e. the gospel finally had an “effect” on us), we woke up and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ with our hearts and not just our heads. We came to life spiritually and our walks with Christ began.
- With chapter 4, we now begin the exhortation or application half of the book of Ephesians. As with Paul’s other New Testament letters, the first part of the book has told us what to believe and now the second part tells us how to live based on those biblical truths about God and our relationship with Him. Everything we will read in Ephesians 4, 5, and 6 will be based on the foundation of who we are in Christ that has been laid in chapters 1, 2, and 3. If during the rest of our study you find yourself getting discouraged by all the commands and challenges, stop and go back to the earlier chapters of Ephesians to remember who you are and what God has already done for you in Christ. Let who you are help you with how you live.