This passage in Ephesians is especially encouraging to contemplate after the punch in the teeth of strong conviction that hit me in yesterday’s passage from Job:
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT
- Be humble and gentle
- Be patient with others, making allowance for their faults
- Make all efforts to keep ourselves united in Spirit, bound together by peace
I love how this reminds us that boldness to proclaim the gospel is quite different from pride or self-righteousness. A follower in The Way, The Truth, and The Life can be humble and gentle themselves, yet bold about the gospel. We can bring forth into the light those things that we know that we have done ourselves that need to be confessed and repented personally. Even if what the gospel has to say about sin can be offensive to a world still enslaved by and serving that particular sin (conviction) — we can remain humble and gentle by offering the bent knee of our own repentance and open arms of the grace of the gospel!
We should not expect others to be perfect or consider ourselves better or worse than others, but we should consider ourselves equal at the foot of the cross. When we proclaim the gospel and it convicts our own heart towards repentance, we shouldn’t be surprised that it would convict others towards repentance. We shouldn’t be surprised that others’ rugs have dirt swept under them because we know that ours has the same. So we should be bold in the truth yet generous with forgiveness — both towards ourselves and towards others.
This sword of the Word of God is meant to be sharp and precise — but that is most true when we reveal what the Word has to say about sin and about grace, when we point that sword at ourselves, and when we allow others to hear and see the surgery that it can do upon a heart and a life.
If we are seeking to draw close to God, offense can try to work its way between us to divide us. So when a message hits me square in the teeth like Job hit me yesterday, I need to pay special attention — there is surgery that needs to be done.
Or when a preacher’s message hits that uncomfortable and protected area of my life — my carnal man wants to initially react in a way that protects my ego, that defends the sun, that justifies my continued rebellion, and that gaslights my own brain into shooting the messenger instead of heading the warning — but the Holy Spirit will whisper to me and offer me grace, peace, and life.
I remind myself, “Do not be offensive ourselves, but do not be afraid of speaking the offense of the gospel!”
If I complain and oppose the gospel — a fool would think he is just opposing just the preacher and the religion — while a wise man would see he is actually opposing the Living God, and would repent.
Lord, forgive me for so many times that I have been afraid to speak the offense of the gospel — even while I have been bold and proud in myself and all of my glorifying talk about the things of the world. Lord, you are strong enough to flip this on its head and by the power of your Holy Spirit turn hellbound fools into saints seated in heavenly places. In our weaknesses, we trust in you to do your work and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.