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Today’s Truth

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:2-3

Friend to Friend

“I hate you!”  

It was sibling rivalry gone wild as one of my children hurled these words at another.  I tried not to overreact as I’m pretty sure saying “I hate you” is something siblings have said to each other through the ages.

At the time of this incident, I had laryngitis which was probably a good thing.  I didn’t add my lecture to the chaotic mix.  I silently typed out these words: 

You may not say “I hate you” to your sibling.  You will write me an essay about ten things you like about your sibling.  

As you would imagine, this message was met with a new set of hot tears and “I can’t do that!”

Our key verse has a lot to teach about getting along with others. The Apostle Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

As children of God, we must act differently than we did before knowing Christ. No more screaming out words like “I hate you!” You must “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1, NIV). Instead of retaliating, belittling, or arguing, our key verse reveals four personal qualities that help us remain loving even when provoked:

Humility – Instead of saying “Me first,” humility says “You first”

Gentleness – Being gentle means having power under control

Patience – Literally “a long temper” – the opposite of a short temper

Forbearance – Continuing to love people even when it’s difficult

The next part of our verse says we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Make every effort.

Sometimes it takes hard work to keep calm and be unified with someone in your biological family or in the family of faith. Thankfully, it is not our job to produce unity. The oneness we have is based on Christ as the common denominator. We are simply to keep the unity that is already ours in Christ.

Being unified doesn’t mean you have to always agree or be exactly alike like carbon copies of one another. Unity includes affectionate love and endearment towards one another. Unity designed by God is a bright witness to the world and a testimony of the glory of God.

When we live in unity, humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance (yes even with a pesky sibling) God gets the glory. This relational peace doesn’t just happen automatically. It requires effort.

Let’s return to my dueling children. My daughter sat at the kitchen table, staring at that blank piece of paper. It took her several minutes and a lot of effort, but eventually she could write down ten things she liked about her sibling.

They reconciled. And a few days later, they had to reconcile again.

Living at peace with one another isn’t a one-time fix. It’s an everyday fix. But each day, the Holy Spirit stands ready to help us as we make every effort to live in unity with our brothers and sisters.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I humble myself before You. Help me to be more gentle and loving towards others. Thank you for the church of Jesus Christ and the unity we have through Your Name. May our love for one another glorify You. Fill me with patience so I can live at peace with those around me.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Think about your conversations today. Have you spoken harshly or been tempted to speak out in anger? Take time to notice the way you communicate. Make every effort to live in peace with those around you.

More from the Girlfriends

Has your social media been unifying, gentle, and loving lately? Technology can lead us down some unsavory paths. If you need to experience more calm with your computer, check out Arlene’s book Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life.

7 Responses to “Make Every Effort”

  1. julie says:

    ty for this…. the forbearance and patience comes to mind of a friend but need to keep in mind about the unity… the forbearance whenever makes a rude comment(s) geared towards me (just ex. how I need to be closer to where my parents live or/and when hubby and I go to church on sunday so they come visit compared to a hr. away from where we live. (we go to a church that’s in my hometown). even for them “even though they travel to different states or different part of the state and don’t complain about it. and when they know i cant drive its hard for me. have. ) to always rely on mainly my hubby) just when its “convenient for them”..or our house (its small compared to their big house. doesn’t matter the size as long as there is love all that matters…. and the patience to just bite my tongue and let it go ignore it, but try to keep distance from her. and might as well add the gentleness to just keep my mouth/comments/short temper I am thinking in my head and just let it go.

  2. Deb says:

    UGH! I feel like a child who has just been reprimanded! Gracious. It wasn’t this morning, but just last night. I was so very frustrated with a co-worker who I felt belittled and disrespected me in front of others. I know it is her nature, but somehow I just found her to be especially rude last night. No, I didn’t say anything to her…. but I did to another co-worker. I was so angry! And hurt! It was all about me! Thankfully, my very wise co-worker reminded me this was not a personal attack on my abilities, but this other persons need to be in control. It wasn’t important in the big scheme of things. And I am thankful that she did. All to often my own insecurities get in the way of reason, and I am thankful when God reminds me – either through His Word, or the word of a friend (or an author who shares her stories) that we are to be patient, humble, gentle, and have forbearance. And I am thankful for your loving reprimand and reminder that we must reflect these qualities with others as He does for us each time we act like unreasonable children. I am thankful for His Grace (and His sense of humor!).

    Thank your for your wise words even through your laryngitis. Hope you are better.
    Blessings.

  3. Deb,

    You are so kind to receive this devotional with grace. I’m able to speak just fine, but my throat still bothers me sometimes (thanks for asking, you are kind again!). God bless you with this co-worker.

  4. Jesus prayed that His disciples would have unity…He will help you! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Joy says:

    this devotional came literally 10 minutes after a difficult encounter with a friend. Miraculously I didn’t say anything inappropriate but as I was in the midst of (angrily) processing it all in my mind, I decide to check out today’s GIG devotional. Clearly God has a sense of humor. I’m sooo grateful for his reminders of his nearness. Great devotional!

  6. Yes Joy, God does have a sense of humor! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Cindy says:

    Arlene

    Thank you for opening my eyes with this reminder of God’s word and how we should conduct ourselves. I too have a coworker that constantly belittles me in front of the entire office. She and another coworker are constantly doing what they can to literally steal my joy. What I have to remember is that no one can do that unless I let them. Satan is working his best in this situation to make me lose my patience and peace with them. And I admit he has won a few times. I struggle with the self control because when I am hurt I just stop talking and sometimes shut drawers with far too much enthusiasm if you know what I mean.

    The one particular coworker has from day one before she even knew me refused to acknowledge on many many occasions when I tell her she has a call and looks at me with total disdain when I try to talk to her or she just stares with no response. I’m not sure if it’s a case of jealousy because the boss puts a lot of faith in me to do things to keep the office running or what her particular reason might be. But now she gotten my boss to the point where if we are all three needing to talk he does the same thing to me. But that is only with her. With others I can have a conversation with him and he converses with me. The office atmosphere is one where he tries to please everyone and tells others what someone else has said to satisfy them and be on everyone’s side no matter who acted appropriately or inappropriately or right or wrong etc. I seriously just want to quit.

    Thank you for reminding me that I have a responsibility as a child of the King to respond with grace and patience and humble myself before Him to learn how I can change myself to love others as He does and see them as He does. I pray He opens my eyes to how I can grow to love these people with His love no matter what they say or do. He loves them just as He loves me!

    Glad you are feeling better. Thank you for sharing.

    May your day be blessed,
    Cindy

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