Bear with One Another

Scripture: Ephesians 4:2, ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’

 

Observations: Paul is talking about how as people called by God we are to live lives worthy of that calling (v1). The NIV inserts the word ‘be…’ into this passage, making it sound like a command. But the Greek has ‘with all humility and gentleness, with patience…’ Paul isn’t commanding us to be like this, rather he is saying this is what a worthy life looks like. Just as Jesus was completely humble, gentle and patient, so his followers will be the same. Next Paul encourages us to ‘bear with one another in love.’ The love that Paul is talking about is the same sacrificial love that Jesus showed for us on the cross. The word ‘bear with’ is anechomai, and it is often used in the context of putting up with something negative. Jesus asks unbelieving people, ‘How long shall I put up (bear with) with you? (Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41)’ Paul says, ‘when we are persecuted, we endure (bear) it. (1 Cor 4:12)’ And he commends those for ‘all the persecutions and trials you are enduring (bearing). (2 Thess 1:4)’ It is also used of people not putting up with sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3), putting up with bad doctrine (1 Cor 11:4), or putting up with people who enslave and abuse (1 Cor 11:19-20). The truth is that living in relationship with other people will mean facing difficulties. No one is perfect ad the more imperfect people you get in one room the more likelihood that things will go wrong. But instead of suggesting we avoid one another Paul encourages us to bear with one another in love. Later Paul writes, ‘forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (v32)’

 

Application: How do you deal with difficult people or situations? Do you avoid such people, do you get angry with them, do you get back at them, or do you bear with them in love? How quick are you to say ‘I will forgive them like I have been forgiven! I will overlook their faults just as God overlooked mine! I will love them even if it isn’t easy because Jesus loved me even though it meant dying on a cross!’ Rather than ask who you are bearing at them moment, I want to ask how well are you bearing up?

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You know how difficult people can be, because You started a relationship with me some years ago and you’ve experienced it first hand. Lord, help me remember that the problem is so often with me, not with others. Lord, help me to bear with other’s failings, just as they have to bear with mine. Lord, help me be humble and gentle and patient with others, just as you were with me. May my love for others bring glory to Your name. Amen.

 

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