God clearly wants His children to get along. His will is for Christians to be unified. But unity doesn’t just happen within a group of people simply because they all decided to join the same church. Unity takes work. It takes sacrifice. It requires individuals who recognize they can serve as a unifying or divisive force within the body—and choose to seek unity.
Paul emphasized this choice in Ephesians 4:1-2 when he challenged his readers about the way they treated one another. He pleaded with them to live in a manner worthy of their calling as members of God’s kingdom. The word translated “worthy” in the original language typically referred to balance, as in the balancing of scales. In essence, Paul was saying, “Let your actions equal what you profess.”
The same principle applies to those of us in the church today. If we say we are following Jesus, our treatment of other believers ought to corroborate our testimony, not conflict with it.
So, how should we treat one another today as followers of Christ? Paul laid out several characteristics in verse 2: humility, gentleness, patience, and loving acceptance.
Gentleness is linked with humility. Being gentle isn’t the same as being a doormat. It isn’t being weak or cowardly. Rather, it involves showing kindness. It means being considerate of others. Those who are gentle don’t demand their own way or grasp for power. Jesus showed gentleness by welcoming little children who wanted to be near Him (see Matt. 19:14). He was gentle when He offered encouragement rather than condemnation to the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:10-11).
In addition to humility and gentleness, Paul called for patience among believers. Patience carries the idea of putting up with others’ faults and failures and not seeking revenge when wronged—which goes hand in hand with accepting one another in love. It’s the willingness to forgive and not bear a grudge. It’s the Christlike view that says: “I see your imperfections, but I love you anyway. I forgive you because God has forgiven me.”
Each of these attributes is vital to maintaining unity within the church.