Keep the Body in Unity

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.“  Eph 4:31-32

Paul is telling the Church in Corinth that it was necessary that they be in unity, not having any anger, slander or outcries within the church.  In the beginning of this chapter, Paul explains it a different way in verses 1-6 of the same chapter.  “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. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph 4:1-6.

Have you ever been in a church where it seemed that unity was an impossible goal to reach?  I have, several in fact.  When I contrast them with what Paul teaches us in Ephesians 4, it saddens me.  In all instances, it was not positive for the individual church and how it was seen from the community.  We are to be a light to the world.  When anger, division, slander and gossip are within the body, it essentially is like hiding our light under a basket.  If there is any light, it is hidden and the world is unable to see it because of the darkness that exists within.  Moreover, whoever is involved in this division is definitely not obeying Christ’s calling to the body.  See what Jesus prayed in what is known as the High Priestly Prayer.  “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” Joh 17:11  We are to be one as the Father and the Son are one.

There will no doubt be differences in how we see some scriptures, what ministries the church partakes in, how the money is allocated, who should make key decisions, etc.  Think about this, can we not discuss these things in an attitude of kindness and not get angry because we do not get our way?  Before any discussions are started, there should be intense prayer that the decisions made are of God, and that He would speak to each one there, and that each one will listen to what God says to them.  There should not be any boasting in the sense that someone believes they know more and their opinion is the way it must be.  Let’s look at our focus verses and relate them to this discussion.

The first thing is there should be no bitterness, wrath or anger.  Let nothing that is discussed or settled on cause you to be bitter or angry.  If you find yourself feeling this way, pray that they be removed.  Submit to the Holy Spirit and let Him bring peace and contentment to you.  It is totally acceptable to have a different opinion and to voice it before those present.  However, do it with kindness, being tender-hearted so that there will be no fracture within the body.  Maybe, you are not hearing God due to your bias.  However, if you are correct, let God bring it to pass.  Let Him cause what is best to happen.

Second, there should be no slander of individuals or groups simply because they disagree with you.  The word in the Greek translated slander here is blaspheÌ„mia.  It in essence is defined as speech that is injurious to another’s good name.  Along with slander, there should be no gossiping about individuals or groups.  In the Cambridge English Dictionary, gossip is defined as ‘conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true.’  We cannot participate in either slander or gossip without committing sin.  Think about the damage these two things can cause.  Remember what Christ said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Mat 7:12.

And third, we are to be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other as God in Christ also has forgiven us.  We may differ in what we think should happen, and we may differ in how we interpret scripture.  But instead of getting angry, spend time discussing the issues.  And again, pray that God will guide the discussions and enlighten all parties as to what the truth really is.  But do not get antagonistic.  That will only bring division and the possibility of sin.

God has called us all to serve God within the body and present the gospel to a lost people.  If we cannot be civil, how can we be successful in our calling by God to the work He has called us to?


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One Comment Leave a comment

  1. Excellent as always, Dr. Funkhouser. Keep up the great work!

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