In Ephesians 4, Paul writes,
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-2)"
One of the hallmarks of churches of Christ in America has been the call for biblical unity. Jesus prayed for it in John 17, and Paul re-emphasizes it here in a letter that emphasizes the unity of the church that Christ founded. In these first two verse of chapter four, Paul says that we must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace Doing this takes several ingredients.
The first ingredient is diligence. That word means that it takes work to do this. This is what is involved for us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."
The second ingredient is humility. This virtue is one that Christ exemplified. He didn't come as an overlord, but as a servant. If there is no humility, it will stand in the way of biblical unity
The third ingredient is patience. Why do we have the proverb, "patience is a virtue?" Why not say, "love is a virtue?" It is probably because patience is one so many of us struggle with. We need to be patient. Paul obviously knew this, so he expands on the idea of patience by adding, "showing tolerance for one another in love."
And that brings us to the fourth ingredient which is love. It encompasses the other ingredients because Paul says among other things that love is "patient" and "is not arrogant" (1 Cor 13:4).
The last ingredient is God's work, the unity of the "Spirit in the bond of peace". Paul expounds on what the Spirit means for unity in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. God has given us the Spirit to help build up the body toward unity and maturity. He has given us a free will, so he allows us to mess it up. What we mess up, God can put back together if we follow his instruction here. The Spirit can bind us together in peace.
Let us pray that we will grow in this diligence, and therefore grow together.