God's grace helps us love one another
"I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." Ephesians 4:1-7
Paul a prisoner calls upon believers to be the church, treating each other with "humility and gentleness" and with "patience" and of course "love."
It is interesting how Paul phrases this terminology of love as an action "bearing with one another through love." Bearing is not customarily a word you would attribute with love. Bearing here implies lifting something under pressure or something weighted that is heavy.
For Paul here, love makes us dig down deep and find the strength to tolerate or put up with others. Maybe people I would not normally hangout with, or people I don't have much in common with, or maybe even people that I don't get along with or have disagreements with. "Striving," another fun word. To continue pushing toward a goal under difficult circumstances.
Maybe all of us experience this, occasionally. From time to time, I will encounter someone who is difficult for me to get along with. When this happens, I find it difficult to have humility and gentleness and patience with this person. (I'm sure I have been that person to others as well.) Remembering this passage from Paul reminds me that no matter my irritation with this person, I need to endeavor to connect, letting this person know that they matter to me.
I remember back when I lived in a foster home. I, newly 14, had a new foster brother, who had entered the home a few days before. He was older, 17, and in my attempt to connect with him, I became an irritating little brother, and he socked me in the eye. Before you gasp at the violence, I deserved it. I was pestering him at the time, testing, and teasing him. Of course, it would have been better for him not to have responded in that way, but it happened.
I wonder, if we as believers, looked back at some of our interactions with fellow believers, or even worse with non-believers, if we could claim that we were "preserving the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace," or if we just gave someone a bruised eye.
The good news is that God has given us grace, and as I receive that gift for all the irritating things I've done in my life, I hope I can find the strength to bear the love to give that gift of grace to those who I might struggle with.