August 10, 2018
Make Every Effort
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 4:2-3, NIV).
Friend to Friend
“I hate you!”
It was sibling rivalry gone wild as one of my children hurled these words at another. I tried not to overreact as I’m pretty sure saying “I hate you” is something siblings have said to each other through the ages.
At the time of this incident, I had laryngitis which was probably a good thing. I didn’t add my lecture to the chaotic mix. I silently typed out these words:
You may not say “I hate you” to your sibling. You will write me an essay about ten things you like about your sibling.
As you would imagine, this message was met with a new set of hot tears and “I can’t do that!”
Our key verse has a lot to teach about getting along with others. The Apostle Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
As children of God, we must act differently than we did before knowing Christ. No more screaming out words like “I hate you!” You must “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1, NIV). Instead of retaliating, belittling, or arguing, our key verse reveals four personal qualities that help us remain loving even when provoked:
Humility – Instead of saying “Me first,” humility says “You first”
Gentleness – Being gentle means having power under control
Patience – Literally “a long temper” – the opposite of a short temper
Forbearance – Continuing to love people even when it’s difficult
The next part of our verse says we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Make every effort.
Sometimes it takes hard work to keep calm and be unified with someone in your biological family or in the family of faith. Thankfully, it is not our job to produce unity. The oneness we have is based on Christ as the common denominator. We are simply to keep the unity that is already ours in Christ.
Being unified doesn’t mean you have to always agree or be exactly alike like carbon copies of one another. Unity includes affectionate love and endearment towards one another. Unity designed by God is a bright witness to the world and a testimony of the glory of God.
When we live in unity, humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance (yes even with a pesky sibling) God gets the glory. This relational peace doesn’t just happen automatically. It requires effort.
Let’s return to my dueling children. My daughter sat at the kitchen table, staring at that blank piece of paper. It took her several minutes and a lot of effort, but eventually she could write down ten things she liked about her sibling.
They reconciled. And a few days later, they had to reconcile again.
Living at peace with one another isn’t a one-time fix. It’s an everyday fix. But each day, the Holy Spirit stands ready to help us as we make every effort to live in unity with our brothers and sisters.
Lord, I humble myself before You. Help me to be more gentle and loving towards others. Thank you for the church of Jesus Christ and the unity we have through Your Name. May our love for one another glorify You. Fill me with patience so I can live at peace with those around me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Think about your conversations today. Have you spoken harshly or been tempted to speak out in anger? Take time to notice the way you communicate. Make every effort to live in peace with those around you.
More from the Girlfriends
Has your social media been unifying, gentle, and loving lately? Technology can lead us down some unsavory paths. If you need to experience more calm with your computer, check out Arlene’s book Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Friday, 10 August 2018.