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 (NASB)
The college students who live in Holland, Michigan know a thing or two about ice cream. There are three ice cream shops within a block of each other. Each shop has its own specialty and a particular claim to fame. The college students have their pick when it comes to flavor, texture, mix-ins, cones, and sizes. Each store offers to let their customers sample a flavor before purchasing. A customer could sample every flavor in the cooler if they wanted! For these college students, if they don’t find a flavor they want at one store, they can move on to another store. And if they don’t find it there, they can move onto yet another store! Sampling flavor after flavor searching for one that meets their expectations and preferences.
If we are not careful, we end up treating people very similarly. We sample someone’s personality then make a judgment call on if we’re satisfied with what they have to offer. If not, we move onto another flavor.
But, God calls us to something different. It’s the unique flavor of each person’s personality that adds color to God’s canvas. He was the one that created diversity and He created it for a purpose! Part of that purpose is to bring honor and glory to Himself. There is nothing quite as impressive and astounding as a group of vastly different people unifying in love to serve God. It makes such an impression on the world, that Satan is quick to use any dissension to validate the world’s rejection of God.
God calls us to bear one another in love. We might be tempted to think that the word “bear” here means to support someone in a rough time, but it actually means to forgive someone’s irritating faults, to not give up on them. We honestly can only do that through the love of Christ. Of course, it goes without saying, that it is not easy. Paul wouldn’t have used words like “humble,” “gentle,” or “patient,” in Ephesians 4:2-3 if it was easy. He wouldn’t have encouraged us to “make every effort” to keep unity if it was something that came to us naturally.
What is natural to us is that people irritate us. They get on our nerves. Our personalities clash. Our intentions get misunderstood. We get defensive. We get aggressive. We think we know more than the other person. We want to dismiss them. We want to move on.
But, God calls us to love one another. To look past the differences. We are called to do more than just unite; we are called tokeepthe unity. We do this not by dismissing and moving on, but by bearing one another in love.
This week’s action item: Think of one person on your team whose personality, thought process, work process, or communication style at times irritates you. Ask God to give you a new love towards that person that allows you to look past those differences.
Team Prayer:Lord God, may this week be one that is filled with keeping unity among our team. Give us the love to bear one another. Teach us to be humble, gentle, and patient with one another. May our unity bring You honor.