23 Feb Walk of Wisdom – Ephesians 4-5 (Pt 2)
Tolerance is a difficult word due to the way our culture has muddied it, but bearing with people describes loving others as God has called us to. Learn more about what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit—appreciating the worth of all people and showing compassion.
EASLEY: If you’re like me and impatient, you can’t stand it when someone says, “Just be patient.” “Oh, okay why didn’t I think of that. (Laughter). I’ll just be patient. I’ll wait happily.” I leave. I don’t wait. Cindy says, “You’re impatient. I say, “No, I’m letting other people get ahead in line. We’re out of here. We’ll go somewhere we don’t have to wait.” Be glad you’re not married to me. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can change that. I have to cooperate with Him. He won’t force it on me. Verse 5: Showing tolerance or bearing with. Living worthy of our calling means being humble, gentle, patient, and being tolerant or bearing with. Tolerance is probably a poor word choice because of the way our culture has muddied that word, but it’s the idea of bearing with or enduring or putting up with others we might say. Again, Paul’s talking about the body of Christ. The easiest way to understand that of course is in your home when your children are in the “terrible twos,” or terrible teens. That’s what we should really talk about, right? How many of us parents have pulled our hair out raising children and saying, “We’re imploring our children to do the right thing in the right way,” and of course they do the wrong thing in the wrong way every time, right? We expect them to listen and we expect them to obey and we’re hammering on them, we’re teaching, we’re loving, we’re encouraging, we’re giving them opportunities and giving them all the things “I never had.” Boy, I play that card a lot. “I never had these opportunities.” Like that’s going to help. “Oh, thanks Dad. Thanks for giving me the opportunity you didn’t have. I’m going to be a better son. I’m going to be a better daughter because you never had that opportunity.” Where do I get off thinking it’s going to change the way they think? Then when I get a little time to think about it I realize, “You know what? They’re still growing.” Why do I expect them to act like an adult when they’re not an adult? That’s a great shoe leather application of bearing with other people.
Living worthy of our calling, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with others, last in love, the affection, the esteem, seeing others worth-that they’re important, and that we do this sacrificially. Again, Stott writes, Love is the final quality that embraces the preceding for and the crown and sum of all the virtues. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of times the Bible speaks of God’s loving kindness, His compassion. He’s slow to anger. He’s merciful to all. He’s abounding in lovingkindness. His mercies never cease. All the things we know perhaps too well. Sacrificial love. Paul will later write in Chapter 5 about husbands love your wives, same word, as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. In thirty three years of marriage and probably twenty four years of trying to teach marriage principles, I often tell the husbands, “Listen, forget all the instructions to the women and forget for now, everything else you’re worried about and that the New Testament says about marriage. Just focus on one thing. Love your wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her.” Stop right there. Christ died for His church. He didn’t blame her. He didn’t complain about her on the cross. He didn’t say, “God, give me another church that loves me.” He said, Forgive them. It’s hard to love your wife like Christ loved the church because it means to die to self. In all those years of my own marriage as well as watching others I will tell you this: Show me a husband who is trying feebly and failing, no doubt, trying to love his wife sacrificially and I will show you a wife who more than likely is flourishing. It’s the same with children. If we criticize them and nag them they won’t change; if we encourage them they may change. It’s the same in marriage. If I criticize and complain and pick at my wife she’s not going to change. She’s going to get ensconced in her positions. If I love her and I know her needs and I know her wants, and I ask her a thousand times, “What do you want? What do you need? What are we going to do in life? What’s the next chapter? How do we want to live this when our kids are finally away from us? How do we want to enjoy life together?” Always working on those questions. That’s my role as the initiator in the marriage. Leadership is initiation. When you’re initiating, you’re asking questions. Yes, she’s going to hurt your feelings and yes she’s going to say snippy things, and yes, she’s going to (unfinished thought). Get over it! You’re a male species and God has designed you to be an initiative taking leader who sacrificially loves. Show me a husband who begins to get this and I’ll show you a marriage with hope. When we position ourselves, the same thing is being applied here when Paul crowns this list as Stott says, “In love.” We do these things in love. Love means I’ve got to put somebody else in front of me and I’ve got to do it lovingly, not just, “Oh, I love you.” Peter O’Brien writes, As believers bear with one another’s weaknesses and failures in the midst of tensions and conflicts, they show a lifestyle that is consistent with their divine calling. This kind of behavior can only spring from God’s love. Living worthy of our calling means that we love.
Well this walking worthy has some results. Look at verses 3-6. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There’s one body and one Spirit, just as also we were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. The manner in which we live this worthy calling, we have five attitudes we just looked at. We might summarize them as: We live loving others, patiently, humbly, bearing with them, and kindly.
Then we move to the results of that which is unity. Now, even a casual reader can’t miss the sevenfold repetition of the word one. It’s a long study. It’s a deep study. I’m going to give you a very quick overview of it. One body is the one church and in that day it was the Jew and Gentile. We might compare it to racially tense groups today that hate each other. The Jew and the Gentile were reconciled; this was in the time of the church when Paul’s penning this. We’re one Spirit. The Spirit of the person of Christ indwells the believer individually. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit is your permanent roommate and because of that we have a connection of one Spirit that we could not have any other way. One hope is the hope of our Salvation; that a person who trusted Christ and whose indwelled by His Spirit hopes in Salvation. Fourth, one Lord. There’s only one Head of the church. Fifth, one faith. That we placed our faith in Christ, not faith in faith. We’ve placed our faith in the person of Christ; that’s the one faith, one baptism; could be wet, could be dry. I kind of lean a little bit toward wet here because a water baptism is what identifies you publicly and makes you part of a community visibly in a local church: one God and Father who is overall and through all and in all.
Then we have the fourfold use of all. This passage, keep in mind, applies to believers. Paul’s writing churches in Ephesus and to the believers in Ephesus. Now, I don’t want to go too deep for you here, but the theological glue in this passage is the Trinitarian Doctrine;the Spirit, the Lord, and God the Father. One, one, one. Paul’s’ sevenfold use and the fourfold use of all-(study this on your own-it’s a rich study) is talking about the Trinitarian Godhead making unity. Think of it very simply: Christ obeyed His Father to come live, die, and be buried and resurrected to provide the Salvation substitution for you and me. When He ascends to heaven, He sends the parakaleo of His Spirit who indwells you and me. He says, “I must go to the Father.” He had to return. The Disciples wanted Him to stay but, He’s got to go to the Father so that He can send The Helper who’s going to indwell all believers so that all can be indwelt by God’s Spirit permanently as the fulfillment of the New Covenant. So what do you have? Trinitarian Doctrine is required for Salvation. God the Father has to send His Son. His Son has to be perfectly obedient to the point of death. His Son has to obey to even return back to glory after His Resurrection so that the Father can dispatch His Spirit who will indwell the believer. The Trinitarian Doctrine isn’t just theology for dry people like me; it’s important to understand your Salvation requires the Trinitarian Doctrine. Today, the churches are growing in number that don’t believe in the Trinity or give any attention to it, and yet it’s all through the New Testament and referred to many times in the Old. Well, there’s much more, but we need to land the plane.
If you’ve ever been in sales you know there are ways to sell things. You can sell things because you want to make money and you can sell a product because you believe in a product. I learned this in multiple jobs I had. I was seventeen and worked at a backpacking/kayaking mountaineering store. There were two owners and two very high end stores; there were no REI’s in those days. This was before clothing was Northface. This was when equipment was Northface. They didn’t have clothing lines, they had free T-shirts. In those days they made mountaineering and climbing equipment. These very high end stores were in high end malls and believe it or not at seventeen I was a store manager and I was a good sales person because I used their stuff, I was an avid climber, avid backpacker, avid kayaker so I could sell this stuff. The owner boss came to me after a while and said, “Michael, you’re a great salesmen, but you only sell three lines.” I said, “Well, that’s because they’re the best.” He laughed and gave me some lessons. After all I was only seventeen. He said, “You’ve got to sell the whole inventory. We can’t just sell three lines. I’ve got inventory here. We’ve got to move it.” I said, “Yes, but that stuff’s not any good.” “I’m employing you to sell all of it.” “Okay, got the picture, but I still like these three better.” Selling because I believe in something verses because you’ve got to make money and that applies to all of life not just sales. Later on I would be in companies where I was representing that company. I worked for the government for the year in East Texas and when I went somewhere I represented the deep East Texas council of governments and I spoke for them. Later, I would become a boss and I would hire people and when you hire someone they are what? They are sales reps. They are representing you when they go out on the street. If you employ people they are representing you with their work, their attitude, their trade, their skill. So when you think of a local church, when we evaluate and hire people we want them to represent Christ, first and foremost, but we want them to represent Fellowship too. From the Learning Center Greeting, to the telephone greeting, to the email response, we want them to smile and say, “How can I serve you? How can I help you? I’m here to minister to you.” If they can’t do that and we can’t train them to do that, we’ll let them go because they’re representing the church of Jesus Christ. We want it to be done in a certain way, to represent who we serve, who we stand for. I mean who wants to deal with a curmudgeonly problem person in any place in life much less, the church. You want people who are representing you well. How much more do you and I need to be representing the King?
A little baby was born last week, so I heard. A Royal Baby. I watched about one point two minutes total of that coverage. I’m glad for the young couple. I’m very conflicted for the boy. What a life he will have. What an unreal life he will have. Isn’t it funny, the media called it the Royal Baby, not the Royal fetus? “That one’s going to be a king.” Cultures funny. You have a real King. You have a sovereign, eternal King that sent His one and only Son, the eternal King, to live to die for your sins and mine, to be buried to confirm His death, and resurrected to give His life and any and all who believe in Him are adopted. We’re illegitimate throwaway children that somebody adopted and put us into royalty, eternal royalty, not a foe royalty, not a fake royalty, not a royalty until the next boy dies and the next one we wait for comes along, but a real king, a real sovereign king. Hard to keep some perspective, isn’t it?
The Tomb Guard Sentinels are one of the oldest most prestigious Honor Guards in the world. In the United States, Arlington Cemetery has what’s known as the Tomb of the Unknowns. It used to be called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but it was changed years ago because there is more than one body that remains in that tomb, hence the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Tomb Guard Sentinels are a prestigious group and I encourage you to read about them sometime. There is so much precision and detail that is required of the Sentinels and it is unparalleled to any other branch of service. It is an Honored Guard situation, but these men and women twenty four seven, three sixty five, guard the Tomb of the Unknowns. If you’ve ever been there, and you should go there, you’ll see the changing of the guard, the thirty one steps they walk back and forth and they’re also inspected by their Sergeant when they show up; their weapons are inspected, their clothing inspected. I’ve heard it takes as long as two hours to get dressed and they’ll spend an average of thirty minutes to an hour a day just working on their shoes. Everything’s got to be perfect before they go outside. They have a creed they memorize and this is the Tomb Sentinels Creed: My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted and the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter and with dignity and perseverance, my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of elements I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect. I protect his bravery that made us so proud, surrounding by well meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night. This soldier, the one entombed, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance. Over a box of dead men’s bones? When you and I serve a living King? Who of us would say, “My standard will remain perfection?” in this honored and sacred duty. You represent Christ among us and to a world. So do I. We serve a King, not a prince, not a name, not an office. We serve a King! A real king. He loves you and He adopted you into His family and He made you an heir. A wise believer will walk in a manner worthy to that with which he has been called.
PRAYER: Father help us to be the kind of men and women who walk in such a way to see fellowship transformed individually and corporately as men and women who know we serve a King, not an elected or appointed official, but one who’s reigned forever, and forever and forever. Help us as we go from here not to dismiss your Word or put it out of hand, but may it come to mind and be cemented in our hearts and minds that we walk in a manner worthy of the way you called us. We love you Lord Jesus, as always help us to love you well, we pray in Christ’s name, Amen.