Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” This sentence, pronounced by Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is the reason I will never forget that novel and its impact on me. Because after reading that one sentence, I firmly decided I would never like Mr. Darcy.
But I was wrong. Like Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet, I had the humbling experience of slowly—and quite reluctantly—changing my mind. Like her, I’d been unwilling to get to know Darcy’s character as a whole; I preferred to hang onto my reaction to one of his worst moments. After finishing the novel, I wondered who I’d made that same mistake with in the real world. What friendships had I missed because I wouldn’t let go of a snap judgment?
At the heart of faith in Jesus is the experience of being seen, loved, and embraced by our Savior—at our worst (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:19). It’s the wonder of realizing we can surrender our old, false selves for who we truly are in Christ (Ephesians 4:23–24). And it’s the joy of understanding that we are no longer alone but part of a family, a “body” of those learning to walk the “way of love”—real, unconditional love (5:2).
When we remember what Christ has done for us (v. 2), how can we not long to see others the way He sees us?
Why do you think you sometimes cling to negative judgments about others? What experiences have you had of “being wrong” about someone?
God, it’s really hard, sometimes, to let go of that impulse to judge and compare, to resist that need to see myself as better than others. Help me to grasp, deep in my heart, the truth that I don’t need to compete and that I am loved.
Living worthy of the calling believers have received (Ephesians 4:1) involves character. Humility puts the needs of others ahead of ourselves (Philippians 2:3–4). Gentleness resists self-importance and offers courtesy. Patience resists self-gratification. And bearing with one another in love is acceptance without conditions. These are necessary for believers to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), which is essential for the mature life of the body of Christ, the church (vv. 15–16). Unity of the Spirit is lived out by believers embracing Christlike characteristics that promote healthy relationships in love, as described in verses 20–32.