By Stan Brown
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
Paul now describes three characteristics that are vital as we walk in a manner worthy. The first two are similar in meaning and Paul pairs them together by means of the grammatical construction. Both words speak of a middle ground between extremes.
The first word humility stands between the two extremes of arrogance and self-abasement. This is illustrated by the fact that Paul elsewhere uses the word in both positive and negative connotations. In Phil. 3:2 he speaks of it as a virtue as he writes but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. In Col. 2:18 he uses it as a negative quality as he writes Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement. We walk in this balance between the two extremes as we eschew both arrogance and self-abasement. We walk with an understanding that we are created by God in His image and gifted by God to perform His tasks. We walk in unity with other believers realizing that they are gifted as well. Arrogance points to “me” rather than God as the source of my gifts. Self-abasement denies what God has accomplished in me and wants to accomplish through me. Humility elevates God to His proper position rather than diminishes what He has accomplished in my life.
The second word gentleness stands between the two extremes of roughness and weakness. Jesus and Moses are both described as gentle. In Matt. 11:29 Jesus said “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. In Num. 12:3 Moses is described (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.). Yet in their gentleness they both demonstrated strength when required. Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Moses exhibited righteous anger when the Israelites made a golden calf to worship. Barclay writes, “The man who is gentle is the man who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time”. It is only the person who is controlled by the Holy Spirit who can exhibit the qualities of humility and gentleness.
The word patience stands in parallel to humility and gentleness as we walk in a manner worthy. The idea of patience is best illustrated in the example of the long-suffering of God, (What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? ( Rom. 9:22)). As believers we wait patiently for Christ’s return even in the light of ever-increasing evil around us. We wait patiently as we anticipate His answers to our prayers. We eschew vengeance when wronged. We walk with all humility and gentleness, as we walk with patience.
Finally, as we walk in a manner worthy, we are to show forbearance to one another with an attitude of love. Simply stated, sometimes other believers drive us crazy with their attitudes and even their weird beliefs and we drive them crazy with our own. We and they are to abide each in love. They will offend us. We will offend them. We are to forbear one another in love as we walk in a manner worthy.