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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”—Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)
I grew up in the 1970s, before the Internet and X-Boxes. The tiny square television in our living room was the primary form of family entertainment. We had no remote control. My dad sat in his leather recliner, and I walked to the front of the room and changed the channels to his favorite shows. Most nights, I laughed along with Mary Tyler Moore, Hawkeye Pierce, and George Jefferson, but on Tuesday nights my temper flared as I endured thirty minutes of Archie Bunker bulldozing over his mousy wife.
I know Edith Bunker is only a fictional character, but my eight-year-old-self wanted to jump through the television screen and rise up to her defense. Why didn’t she fight back? How could she respond with grace to such a grump? I viewed her meekness as weakness.
But now that I am older and wiser, I know better. Edith Bunker was a wise woman who loved well and suffered long. Her kind, gentle spirit created stability in a very difficult setting.
In Ephesians 4, Paul addresses believers and encourages them to promote unity in the Church. He admonishes them to lay aside pride, pushy demands, and impatience because the Church is a family, and we must decide to fight for each other rather than with each other. Paul challenges us to be patient instead of fixating on the faults of our brother or sister. He exhorts us to set aside our resentment and righteous indignation so we may serve one another in love.
Perhaps you’ve logged on to Facebook or Twitter and lamented how grumpy people misuse words to bulldoze others with their opinions. Maybe you’ve considered firing off a well-crafted retaliatory response. But instead of shouting louder, let’s purpose to speak kindness and extend grace.
Long-suffering love perseveres through pain and provocation. Rather than strong-arm our way forward, we are called to stand strong and steadfast in the Spirit with submissive hearts fully surrendered to God’s sovereignty. God will grant us the grit and grace we require to continue loving one another.
DIG: Read Colossians 3:8-14 and make a list of Christ-like qualities we are to “wear in love.”
DISCOVER: Read Jonah 4. What do you learn about long-suffering love from God’s response to the rebellious prophet?
DISPLAY: Purpose to pray through difficult encounters with negative people. Ask God to give you His perspective and help you temper your responses.