OceanSide church of Christ
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THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT (1)
Personal Traits of Unity
Victor M. Eskew
A. The Bible teaches, promotes, and encourages unity among God’s people.
1. Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.
2. Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-21).
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
3. Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to be united (I Cor. 1:10).
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined togeth-er in the same mind and in the same judgment.
B. In Ephesians 4:3, Paul refers to this unity as “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
1. This is a unity that is brought about through the teachings of the Spirit found in the Word of God.
2. When unity prevails, it is wrapped tightly in an atmosphere of peace.
C. In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul pleads for this unity among the Christians at Ephesus.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you…
1. This unity involves “Personal Traits.”
2. This unity involves “Doctrinal Traits.”
D. In this lesson, we want to examine the six personal traits Christians must have for the unity of the Spirit to exist.
I. LIFE (Eph. 4:1)
…that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
A. Christians are people who have answered the call of the gospel (II Thess. 2:14).
B. Once a person has been saved, he has a specific lifestyle God expects him to live.
1. Philippians 1:27a
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…
2. For unity to prevail, one must “walk worthy” of this vocation.
a. Worthy means appropriately.
b. Worthy means suitably.
c. Worthy means “after a godly sort” (See III John 6).
C. Several examples exist in the New Testament of those who lives were not worthy, thus, threatening the unity of the body of Christ.
1. Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), lying
2. Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:18-24), selfish desire
3. The fornicator at Corinth (I Cor. 5), sexual sin
4. Diotrophes (III John 9), power and pride
D. When the Christian fails to live as God instructs him to live, he hurts the unity of the body. Thus, it is not surprising that the New Testament commands us to withdraw from those who “walk disorderly” (II Thess. 3:6).
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
II. LOWLINESS (Eph. 4:2)
With all lowliness…
2. To have a humble opinion of one’s self
3. A deep sense of one’s littleness
B. An example: Saul at the beginning of his monarchy
1. When told of his selection to be king by Samuel (I Kings 9:21)
And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes in Israel? And my family the least of the all the families of the tribes of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
2. At his presentation to Israel (I Kings 10:22)
…and the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
3. When he rebelled against the Word of the Lord, Samuel reminded him of his modesty at the outset of his reign (I Sam. 15:17).
And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not make the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
C. Being “big-headed,” boastful, and thinking of ourselves to be of great import-ance can destroy the unity of the church.
1. Congregations do not belong to individuals. We are just lowly servants (See Luke 17:10).
2. The church belongs to the Lord. He is the Head, the Chief Shepherd, and the Bishop of our souls.
III. LOYALTY (Eph. 4:2)
A. Meekness is a word that some think difficult to understand.
1. Many see a meek person as one who is quiet, withdrawn (reserved), and of few words.
2. The word really carries two meanings:
a. In relation to God – submissive to authority
b. In relation to man – one who is gentle
B. Jesus is our best example of a meek man (Matt. 11:29).
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
1. Jesus was extremely submissive to His heavenly Father (John 8:29b).
…for I do always those things that please him.
2. Jesus was gentle in his dealings with others.
a. Luke 4:22
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth…
b. NOTE: His gentleness did not forbid rebuke when it was needed.
C. Unity will always be subject to decay when individuals in the church refuse to submit to God and when they cease being gentle with one another.
IV. LONGSUFFERING (Eph. 4:2)
1. Strong (3115): longanimty
2. The best way to define it is to reverse the order of the compound word itself. Thus, it means “to suffer long.”
3. Other words associated with longsuffering: patient, living with, resignation, self-control, and tolerance.
4. To go long periods of time before executing wrath (See Matt. 18:26).
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
B. God is the best example of one who is longsuffering (II Pet. 3:9).
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuff-ering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
C. Situations do not change overnight. People do not change in an instant. Minds are not usually changed in a single discussion. Thus, we must suffer long for unity to be maintained.
V. LOVING FORBEARANCE (Eph. 4:2)
…forbearing one another in love.
1. Strong (430): to hold one’s self up against…fig. to put up with
2. Thayer: to sustain, bear, endure
B. This word is similar to longsuffering.
1. Longsuffering involves the long haul. Forbearing involves short-term restraint.
2. Example: At a traffic light, it turns green, the car in front of us does not move. How do we react?
3. We are often too quick in our actions against others.
a. Hasty accusation
d. Sharp words
C. NOTE: Our forbearance is to be tempered by love, not anger, disgust, evil-speaking, or withdrawal from another.
D. Hasty, sharp responses to the words and actions of our brethren will not allow unity to prevail.
1. Proverbs 29:20
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than of him.
2. Ecclesiastes 7:9
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
VI. LABOR (Eph. 4:3)
Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
1. Strong (4704): to use speed, to make effort :- labor (Heb. 4:11)
2. Thayer: to exert one’s self
B. Unity does not come passively. We must put forth effort to maintain unity in the church.
1. Abraham gave Lot the first pick of the land for his flocks (Gen. 13:8-9).
2. Paul wrote lengthy letters to encourage unity (I Cor. 1:10-13).
3. Selfishness had to be overcome with unselfishness (Rom. 15:1).
4. Others had to get involved in the conflicts of Christians (Phil. 4:3).
5. Christians had to obey difficult commands (Gal. 6:15-16).
6. At times, there had to be stern rebukes (Gal. 2:11).
D. Everyone in a congregation must put forth the hard work that is necessary for unity to prevail.
A. Each Christian is like a single chemical element. For unity to be produced, we must be bound together.
B. One of the compounds that brings us together is called “Personal Traits.” A worthy walk, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and hard work helps to unity us all into one substance.