“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,” (Eph. 4:2)
Paul is kidding, right? First I’ve got to have all humility and gentleness and now he wants to suggest that I exercise those two awesome qualities with patience. I think being humble and gentle ought to get the job done. Surely people will recognize these attributes and not push me to the edge. Why can’t I be humble and gentle without the patience part?
Is it possible to be humble but not tolerant, gentle but not patient? At some point aren’t I allowed to cry out, “O you of little faith!”? Maybe. But can you love and not be tolerant or love and not be patient? When Paul told the Corinthian church, “love is patient” was he describing an unusual occurrence? Is he saying, in a way, that patient people may not always love but loving people are always patient?
To walk the manner worthy of our call we must walk a manner of love. That manner of love will produce all humility when we put ourselves alongside pride and gentleness when we encounter harshness. Walking in the manner of love will provide us patience and tolerance even with those who are impatient or intolerant.
Let’s think about our day to day activities. In the car, going to work, do we drive with all humility, gentleness, showing patience and tolerance for others? Whoops! In the hallway at school? Shopping on Black Friday. Sitting next to a fan of the other team? Looking at an overcooked meal or spilled milk?
What a world it would be if all around us people walked in all humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance. Not much need for major news outlets or large police forces. We could reduce the number of laws, house the homeless, feed the poor and clothe the naked. Couldn’t we? How do we get a world like that?
Paul started with each faithful saint. When each faithful saint walks in the steps of Jesus it will change them and soon those around them. Millions have been changed by the walk of Jesus. First the church in Ephesus and then Ephesus. Then Asia Minor and on to Rome. It’s an idea based on the leaven principle. A little good goes a long way. Problem, not enough Jesus walkers.
Someone said we change the world one person at a time and the first person that needs to change is me. What is your walk like? Is it worthy of the great calling you received? Let me remind you of that calling: “Come, follow me.”
What to practice today: Be as humble as you can be. Let all your actions and words be gentle. Smile when your patience is tried. Tolerate those “other” people.