Ephesians 4 (NRSV)
Unity in the Body of Christ
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Psalm 119:2 (New Living Translation)
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high
he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”
9(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers:
“Till we all come . . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” — Ephesians 4:13
Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race of Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose–that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.
14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
The Old Life and the New
17Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
“Ignorance and her squalid brood. A universal dearth of intellect. And need I stop to remind you of the host of loathsome reptiles such a stagnant pool is fitted to breed! Croaking jealousy; bloated bigotry; carping suspicion; wormish blindness; crocodile malice.”
–from “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country,”
a short story/essay by William Gass
20That is not the way you learned Christ! 21For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Rules for the New Life
25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.
29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Psalm 111:1 (English Standard Version)
Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
When I was a child and had a fight with one of my siblings, my mother would stand us facing each other to apologize. Then we would say Ephesians 4:32, King James version, in unison — “Be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.” I had many opportunities to repeat that verse! What it meant to me then was what I HAD to do, like it or not.
Now I treasure the thought that God has forgiven me, and that by forgiving others, I get the joy of reflecting God’s kindness on to them. Scripture reminds us over and over to be kind:
2 Peter 1:5-8 (New International Version)
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:12 (New International Version)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
from George Washington Carver:
“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”
Cher sings “Love One Another.” Let go of the past, let go of the fight; forgiveness fills the world with light.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.