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I have been pondering the ways and means of conflict resolution and inevitably my mind returns to Eph 4:1-3.

I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

There is a lot that has been said about these two verses, of course, but I want to focus on two points. Matthew Henry said about these verses: “The first step towards unity is humility; without this there will be no meekness, no patience, or forbearance; and without these no unity. Pride and passion break the peace, and make all the mischief. Humility and meekness restore the peace, and keep it. Only by pride comes contention; only by humility comes love.”  “Lowliness” – humility – is found in another verse concerning relations with others: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” What kind of lowliness will allow me to esteem other better than myself? – having a humble opinion of myself. A couple of verses later in Philippians we are told Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  We know that dying on that cross meant he endured shame (Heb 12:1). Of course it meant enduring pain, even unto death. He didn’t need to do it for himself. He needed to do it for us.  He put up with an awful lot in our behalf. The standard he set for humility  – having a modest opinion of oneself – is pretty high!

Secondly, Eph 4:1-3 suggests we need longsuffering for one another in order to have unity. Synonyms for longsuffering include patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance. The longsuffering Jesus Christ displayed toward Paul – yes Paul! – is given as an illustration of what longsuffering entails. Consider these verses in I Timothy:

And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience [longsuffering] for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (15b 16)

Jesus Christ put up with a lot in Paul as Paul wreaked havoc in the early church.  That church had a deep understanding of just how big Paul’s offenses were before he became a Christian. Now that putting up by Jesus Christ is articulated as the longsuffering those who believe on him are to have. We are to put up with a lot in each other as we endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

4 Responses to “The Humility And Longsuffering We Need”

  1. on 11 Jun 2007 at 8:10 amSean

    Amen! Humility is the first step of Christianity. It was Jesus’ first beattitude. This verse in James came to mind while considering the necessity of humility:

    James 4:6-10
    6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

  2. on 11 Jun 2007 at 8:52 pmjimS

    As I have seen God requires all people to submit to His wisdom for a blessed outcome of living:

    Prov 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (humble).
    Prov 3:35 The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

    Yahweh our Father also says…

    Prov 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

    We are to be perfect as He is perfect. In the end when the wicked are destroyed Yahweh will not rejoice over their fall because He is loving toward all.
    He will ,however, rejoice over those of us who have sought to be as He is.

    Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

  3. on 12 Jun 2007 at 7:48 pmAlexB

    Thank you for your responses. They both underscore the absolute requirement for humility, vis a vis God certainly but also in maintaining unity with other believers.

    The picture of Jesus Christ putting up with Paul’s doing anm awful lot of harm to his church — as an example of the patience we are to have shocked me a little. that’s an awful lot of patience. Are we to display it toward one another? Unbelievers?

  4. on 13 Jun 2007 at 8:11 pmRich

    Excellent post, Alex!
    Thank God for HIS longsuffering toward us, or we’d have never stood a chance!
    Since we do not know ther future anb how people might change and repent, it always behooves us to have humility and longsuffering toward those around us.
    Thanks for reminding us of this!


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