“Bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2c).
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-3 listed five key Christian lifestyle practices. The first three lifestyle guides are to “be completely humble, be gentle and be patient.”
The fourth key lifestyle practice is for Christians to “put up with other Christian church members because we are motivated by love.” It means that love is to be the governing force in all our relationships with people in the church or community of faith.
Now you may be thinking; “Frank, are you saying Paul is telling me I have to love someone at our church even though I do not like them?”
“Yes.” Paul says we are to love all people in our community of faith.
The Ephesian congregation was made up of Jewish and Gentile Christians. In their normal lives, Jewish and Gentile people did not like each other. But when they became Christians, Jesus gave them the gift of love. That love gave them the power to support all Christians, no matter their race or nationality.
The word love that Paul uses is a very important word to understand. In the Greek language there are four words that describe four kinds of love. Paul in this passage is using the very powerful love word agape.
Agape love is the most comprehensive form of love. Agape love is not just an emotional feeling; agape is a supreme act of our will.
Agape love is that quality of our mind and heart that compels us Christians to never feel any bitterness or desire to seek revenge against another person. Agape love in us always seeks the highest good for every person in the community of faith, the highest good for every member of our family, the highest good for every person we meet and the highest good for that person we cannot stand being close to.
Why can we do this?
We Christians can help every person in the congregation because we practice agape love in our personal relationships.
Frank Fain is director of educational services at The Baptist Home in Arcadia Valley, Mo.
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