Series: The Word
Ephesians 4:2 NLT
The emphasis the Apostle Paul placed on the members of the church in a Ephesus has always been a bit confusing to me.
I understood that the Bible was written a long time ago and the new believers needed to learn about the People of the Way (the way of Jesus). But thousands of years later it sure seemed like not a lot had changed.
In Ephesians 4:2 Paul wrote, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
What I learned as an adult serving in ministry is that strife exists in the church because we are human.
I came to realize that my best course of action is to pray for those who don’t understand what it means to be humble and gentle and patiently make allowances for others.
So, I have a story to tell that explains what I mean.
There was a woman who taught Children’s Sunday School. Two of my children were in her class. It’s good that two of them were there because one of them probably wouldn’t have shared about what happened in Sunday School. That was because he was the kind of person who brushed it off.
It was summer and he wore long shorts to church. I approved the dress code. Now, today we wouldn’t think anything of it, but thirty years ago I found out it was “a deal” and my dress code didn’t agree with her dress code.
That wasn’t the real problem though.
If he’d been told privately I might have understood it. As it was he was put on display in class and told his choice of clothing wasn’t acceptable.
That was the first issue I had with what happened.
The second issue I had is that he wasn’t the one who should have been put on display. I was the parent who approved the dress code. The words should have been spoken to me privately.
To make a long story short I didn’t take the news well when I found out about it later.
She was not humble.
Because she got after him publicly in class she did not have a gentle spirit toward my son.
She did not have a gentle spirit about the clothing he wore.
I was very upset.
My son had a “whatever” attitude about the whole affair.
After that day I prayed but my prayer was more like the kind of prayer a mother grizzly bear would pray. She was wrong.
Eventually I did have a conversation with her about who she needed to voice her concerns with…I told her I approved the dress code that day.
That did not go well at all. She came at me like a grizzly bear and I didn’t expect that kind of reaction.
I didn’t yell back but after the fact I was not humble about it.
I did not have a gentle spirit toward her.
I did not patiently make allowances for her.
I felt like I was right.
That happened thirty five years ago.
I was a young woman in my thirties when it happened.
Today I realize I could have handled it better. I do think the conversation I had with her was the right thing to do. As the adult I took responsibility for my actions when I explained I approved the dress code.
I hope if it happened today, I would pray for her after our conversation and I would put the matter in God’s capable hands.
I hope I’ve matured enough to be humble and gentle. I hope I’ve changed and I would turn to Jesus and be honest, telling Jesus I need help so I can be patient and loving.
But I am still human and I still have feelings.
Today, most of my grandchildren are old enough to speak up on their own. But, even though I’m much older, if my youngest grandchildren’s honor was attacked, I just might in the heat of the moment bite back like a mama grizzly bear (metaphorically speaking).
The good news is that God’s not finished with me yet.
So, I pray that every day in every way God will give me a humble spirit toward others. I ask God to grant me a gentle spirit toward others. I implore God to give me patience toward others.
That’s why Paul wrote those words so long ago. He knew we would struggle with each other. He knew our feelings would get in the way. He knew we are human and day by day, inch by inch we seek to be more like Jesus.
Spiritual Practice: Pray
Sit in silence with God. At the end of your time, ask God for humility and a gentle patient spirit toward others.
In God, Deborah