“ Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
There is a small, wooden placard in the center of my kitchen table that reads: Fam-i-ly- [fam-uh-lee] noun; 1. Those you love the most; 2. Those who drive you nuts.
I don’t know about you, but I often find this to be true in my house. Family members have an uncanny ability to get under our skin and grate on every square inch of our nerves. Though we love them dearly, our families have a knack for knowing how to drive us a little crazy, don’t they?
If you can relate, then Paul has some words of wisdom.
Paul wrote these words to a community of believers in Ephesus, but they are equally applicable in our homes. He is describing the quality of character and behavior that should govern all of our relationships, not just those specifically within the Body of Christ. Why would Paul take time to intentionally encourage the Ephesians to be “humble,” “gentle,” “patient,” and “to bear with one another in love?” Paul is no fool. He is fully aware of the sin in our hearts. Paul knows that when we live in close proximity with others, tensions are bound to arise.
There is a lot to be said about each of the adjectives that Paul mentions, but let’s hone in on the phrase, “bear with one another in love.” Other translations say, “make allowance for each other’s faults” (TLB) and “show tolerance for one another” (NLT). What is striking about this is that Paul isn’t necessarily talking about the wrongdoings and sins that we commit against each other, though the phrase certainly applies to these kinds of situations. Paul seems to have in mind bearing with each other’s shortcomings and imperfections. It’s often idiosyncrasies and differences in personality that are the soil for frustrations to take root. If we’re not careful, these frustrations can grow into a full-blown conflict. So, how do we respond when we’re annoyed by another’s attitude or frustrated by their point of view on an issue?
Paul’s answer is that we are to “bear with one another in love.” He means much more than simply gritting our teeth and begrudgingly putting up with the other person. We are to do this “in love.” This love should affect both our attitude and our actions. Of course, this is easier said than done. That is why we must be ever mindful of the way Jesus treats us. Time and time again, we test the Lord’s patience and how does He respond? He relentlessly bears with us in love. In fact, The Greek word for love Paul uses is “agape.” It’s used to describe God’s sacrificial love for mankind. Agape love is embodied in the selfless love that Jesus displayed on the cross (see Romans 5:8). We are called to reflect the Lord’s love in all of our daily interactions.
Yes, this even includes those who live under our roof.
Search your heart. Draw near to Jesus. Who in your family do you need to seek to “bear with, in love?” Ask the Lord to help give you the strength, patience, and grace to love them well.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH