Eph 4:1-16 = Health & Wellness
Made For Unity
as Mitton (NCB) puts it, meekness ‘is the spirit of one who is so absorbed in seeking some worthy goal for the common good that he refuses to be deflected from it by slights, injuries or insults directed at himself personally, or indeed by personal considerations of any kind’.
A rather pious individual once came to a preacher and asked him to pray for him that he might have patience. “I do so lack patience,” he said, trying to be humble as he said it. “I wish you would pray for me.”
“I’ll pray for you right now,” the preacher replied. So he began to pray: “Lord, please send great tribulation into this brother’s life.”
The man who had asked for prayer put a hand out and touched the preacher on the arm, trying to stop his prayer. “You must not have heard me rightly,” he said. “I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I asked you to pray that I might have patience.”
“Oh, I heard what you said,” the preacher answered. “But haven’t you read Romans 5:3, ‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience’? It means we acquire patience through the things that we suffer. I prayed that God would send tribulations so that you would have patience.”
‘It involves bearing with one another’s weaknesses, not ceasing to love one’s neighbours or friends because of those faults in them which perhaps offend or displease us’ (Abbott). It is ‘that mutual tolerance without which no group of human beings can live together in peace’ (Stott).
Indeed, since Christ is himself their peace (Eph. 2:14), it would be unnatural for them to live otherwise than at peace with one another.
Means Of Unity
Comparing the church to a body is particularly appropriate in this passage, however, for a body is something that works together, even though it is composed of many diverse parts. Moreover, its unity is organic. That is, it is achieved not by joining a number of diverse parts or pieces in the way one would make a machine, but by growth. The church is not a diesel engine or a watch or an airplane. It is a body. It grows by the multiplication of cells.
We have many differences in the small particulars of our conversions. But when we begin to talk about what the Holy Spirit did in our hearts to bring us to faith in Christ, our experiences are identical.
Jesus is going to come back. We are going to be with him. There is a home for us in heaven.
There are not many Lords. There is only one Lord, and that Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are following him, if we are open to what he is doing, that must be a force for drawing us together.
“Faith” can be used objectively or subjectively. Subjectively it means our experience of faith; there is no salvation apart from faith. Objectively it means the content of faith or what we believe, the gospel.
Is there only one God? Then he has only one church. Is the unity of God inviolable? Then so is the unity of the church.… It is no more possible to split the church than it is possible to split the Godhead.
John T. MacNeil, a great Scottish preacher and evangelist, was a pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for two years in the 1920s. He used to imagine a conversation that might have taken place between the man who had been born blind, whose story is told in John 9, and the other blind man who was healed by Jesus, whose story is told in Mark 8.
MacNeil imagined these two getting together to discuss how Jesus healed them. The man who had been healed without the spittle would tell his story, and the man who had been healed with the spittle would tell his. He would say to the other, “But you left out the part about Jesus spitting in the dust and making clay and placing the clay upon your eyes.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” the first would reply.
The man from John would answer, “It has to be that way, because that’s the way Jesus gives sight to people. You must have forgotten it. He spit on the ground; he made clay; he put it on your eyes, and he sent you to wash in the pool of Siloam.”
“Oh, no,” the man from Mark says, “he didn’t do that with me. He just spoke and I received my sight.”
The first man digs in his heels. “That isn’t right,” he says. “Jesus heals with clay! If you haven’t had that experience, I am beginning to doubt whether you can really see!” Thus originated in the early church the denomination of the “Mudites” and the “Anti-Mudites,” two divisions. That is what happens when we get our eyes on the modes of God’s working rather than upon the Lord who works.
Minister In Unity
Christ does not squander his gifts; each one is essential. He does not withhold his gifts; they are poured out in full measure. He is not indifferent as to how his gifts are used; he has his own wise and lofty purposes in view. He does not give his gifts at cross-purposes; all are to serve and edify the church. He does not abandon those to whom the gifts are given; rather he continues to work through them and in them for the church’s well-being. Where the gifts are received in this spirit and are so used, there the unity of the Spirit is maintained, and the body of Christ is built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.”
Maturity Through Unity
Love for the Word of God leads to truth; if we love the Bible, we will read it and grow in a knowledge of what the Word contains. Love for the world leads to mission. Love for other believers leads to unity.
“If we want to be considered members of Christ, let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other” (Calvin, in loc.).