Walk Worthy by Bearing with One Another in Love
Does bearing with one another in love mean that we all have to turn into teddy bears? Hmmm… That might be an excellent visualization! Logos Bible Software indicates that the sense of Strong’s G430 in Ephesians 4:2 is to endure something unpleasant or difficult whether on one’s own behalf or on behalf of someone else. It boils down to demonstrating the patience of God.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV
Paul continues unfolding the process of spiritual development for one who is walking worthy of his call. He now urges the Ephesians to combine patience with the process. A worthy example of what Paul is admonishing is found in the words of Jesus.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist [to set one’s self against, to withstand, to oppose; Strong’s Concordance] the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”Matthew 5:38 – 42 ESV
Patience Is from God
Many think that Jesus is unreasonable to demand such a resolve in the face of abuse. Yet their understanding of His teaching misses the sentiment of what Jesus is challenging us to do. Jesus is admonishing His children to realize that patience is a trait unique to God. But patience is greatly misunderstood as being something more akin to passivity, being passively compliant, or simply resigning to the desire of another. Yet patience, as an evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, possesses qualities directly from God’s own DNA.
Patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that enables us to persevere under pressure. True patience maintains the virtues of love, joy, and peace when faced with the pressures of wrong, mistreatment, or taxation. When pressed, patience does not retaliate but instead addresses the underlying motivations of the soul. By His fruit of patience, the Holy Spirit moves us to look to Jesus for strength, giving us the ability to forbear in circumstances that would otherwise deplete our resolve. Therefore it is not surprising that the child of patience is forbearance. Bearing with one another in love evidences the life that patience prompts us to live within the Spirit. As humility brings forth gentleness, so patience produces forbearance.
Delusional would be the characterization of anyone who thought they could exemplify the virtue of patient forbearance apart from God’s divine enabling. As a virtue of the Spirit of God, we must receive patience from God instead of attempting to manufacture it from within ourselves. In our own efforts, we simply suppress our frustration while trying to gain status with people or God. Therefore forbearance must arise from Christ, who is working to accomplish His good pleasure within the lives of those yielded to Him.
Patience Empowered by God
Patient forbearance is the process of being personally empowered by God’s divine enabling to regard as sacred the relational pathways that allow us to journey among our spiritual kin while on a mission for God. We must remain ever faithful to God regarding what He wants us to accomplish in another’s life—not allowing any discontinuance within the relational connection between our spiritual siblings and us. We are to be a vigilant source of God’s grace to each other within the body of Christ. Therefore we should not allow issues to emerge as obstacles to God’s love flowing through us to each other.
We must remain dead to sin while not allowing our interpersonal issues to animate the flesh. We are once again empowered by the nature of sin within us, giving way to selfish ambition and vain conceit. Forbearance is an example of divine enablement.
Godly or Ungodly Enabling?
The difference that separates godly enabling from ungodly enabling is whether one is moved towards personal empowerment through obedience to God’s Word, or instead being encouraged to continue traversing and travailing within their sinfulness while using attention and influence to escape their consequences. When enabling does not yield the fruit of righteousness, we are to move to exhortation with truth confronting sinfulness while asking the probing question, “What does your behavior say about your relationship with Christ?” All the while continuing to forbear with them through their choosing Christ’s Redemptive Process over Self’s Redemptive Process.
We are to hold others accountable to godliness, allowing others to bear the weight of their sin’s consequence while exposing, exhorting, enlightening, enriching, establishing, and encouraging the truth.
Bearing with Another Is Not People Pleasing
Seeking to please over ministering to each other is a sure means to breaking the unity of the faith. This undermines the patient forbearing process. The process of pleasing others works only to establish expectations of one gaining some reward for their labors. When disappointment arises, the prospect of pleasing another becomes contempt for the other. We are to forbear in love but not in a pathological waltz of manipulative interaction with each other to gain some semblance of worth for ourselves.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:10 ESV
When showing tolerance for one another, a.k.a. bearing with one another in love, are you demonstrating God’s patience?
“Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?“
- How can I be a better servant of Christ?
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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