by Rev. James Wong
"1 I urge you, then — I who am a prisoner because I serve the Lord: live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you. 2 Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. 3 Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.” ~Ephesians 4:1-3 (TEV)
This is one of the most important passages in the Bible about keeping the unity and harmony in the church. It boils down to the inter-personal relationship that we have with one another. A relationship falls apart if both parties do not know how to deal with the differences and the disagreements that exist. Here are the practical tips to keep a relationship in unity and harmony.
1. Live according to God’s standard for relationships. “Live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you.” (Eph 4:1). Unity here is not about uniformity and many people get this wrong. The Bible uses the picture of the human body to describe the church as the body of Christ. The body is made up of many different parts yet one body (1 Cor 12:12). All the body parts are not the same and it is a unity in diversity. As such, we must learn to live with differences and disagreements. We must learn to ‘agree to disagree’ to keep the relationship going for the glory of Christ who has called us to be united in Him and to live in harmony with each other.
2. Live according to the etiquette of relationships. “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” (Eph 4:2). What preserves the harmony in a relationship? (1) “Be always humble.” People who are humble has a magnetic personality. They do not presume that they are always right. Arrogance turns friends into enemies. (2) “Being gentle” to one another is to learn to be sensitive to each other’s feelings and preferences. “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Prov 15:1 NLT). (3) Be patient with each other is to bear with others’ mistakes or weaknesses. The relationship may give you discomfort but you are willing to endure it. (4) And “making allowance for each other's faults because of your love.” Everyone is faulty in some ways.
3. Live according to the principle of personal responsibility on relationships. “Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.” The Holy Spirit gives us unity and harmony but it is our responsibility to preserve it. “Do your best” means “making every effort” (NLT), “being diligent” (NASB), “eager to maintain” (ESV), “endeavoring to keep” (NKJV), “take care to keep the harmony” (BBE). It is our personal responsibility to keep a relationship in unity and harmony. In every failed relationship, there is a personal failure somewhere. Either we have made life too difficult for others or we have not done our best. To follow Christ is to live with a godly codes for relationships.