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Ephesians 4:1-6

  • Think back to a time in your life where you had to have a lot of patience. (It could be something significant, or something trivial). What did it feel like to have to be patient?

  • What sort of situations make you feel especially impatient?

  • Can you think of someone who is a particularly patient person? What is the effect of their patience on others?

Read Ephesians 4:1-6

  • What do you think Paul means in verse 1, "live a life worthy of the calling you have received"? What is our calling? And how can we 'live up to it'?

In verse 2, Paul uses two pairs of key words to describe our attitude in our relationships with one another:

  • be humble and gentle

  • be patient and bear with one another [1]

  • How does our attitude toward one another, especially in having an attitude of humility and patience with each other, help us to 'live up to our calling'?

In verse 3 Paul then calls for "the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

  • How does an individual's attitude of humility and patience contribute to a community's unity and peace?

Verses 4-6 describe the extent of our unity. Examine each of the 'ones' in these verses.

  • What do you notice is common amongst these things?

  • What is missing?

  • What sort of diversity is still allowable in the context of this kind of unity?

The next verse immediately describes one type of diversity:

Read Ephesians 4:7

Some translations (including the NIV) hide the word 'gift' in this verse, but it is a key word. We are all given different gifts out of Christ's great gift to us: his grace.

What Paul says here is actually echoed and expanded in Romans 12:3-8...

Read Romans 12:3-8

  • How do these words help us to understand unity and diversity in the church?

  • How does God use our different gifts, personalities, abilities, strengths and weaknesses to unify us in a richer way than uniformity?

Spend some time reflecting on your own heart:

  • Are you humble and patient with others? And do you work towards unity and peace?

Pray for one another, for your group and for our church, that we would be growing in these things more and more, so that we can "live a life worthy of the calling we have received."

[1] The four Greek words in this verse are interesting. Tapeinophrosunas ("be humble") means to be humble, especially in relationship with God; to not have an overinflated view of oneself. Prautatos ("be gentle") also means to be humble, but more in view relationship with another; to not be self-importantly putting yourself above others, but choosing to be gentle and kind and gracious to others (especially when you could justifiably choose not to).

Makrothumei ("be patient") means to be patient with another person (as opposed to being patient with a situation or circumstances), especially in choosing to refrain from forcing them to move or change even when you have the power to do so. Anochai ("bear with") also means to be patient, but is more often used in the context of conflict; to refrain from fighting, to make a truce with someone, or to be tolerant of those you disagree with.

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