Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” the poet Emily Dickinson wrote, suggesting that, because God’s truth and glory is far “too bright” for vulnerable human beings to understand or receive all at once, it’s best for us to receive and share God’s grace and truth in “slant”—gentle, indirect—ways. For “the Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind.”
The apostle Paul made a similar argument in Ephesians 4 when he urged believers to be “completely humble and gentle” and to “be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). The foundation for believers’ gentleness and grace with each other, Paul explained, is Christ’s gracious ways with us. In His incarnation (vv. 9–10), Jesus revealed Himself in the quiet, gentle ways people needed in order to trust and receive Him.
And He continues to reveal Himself in such gentle, loving ways—gifting and empowering His people in just the ways they need to continue to grow and mature—“so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature” (vv. 12–13). As we grow, we become less vulnerable to looking elsewhere for hope (v. 14) and more confident in following Jesus’ example of gentle love (vv. 15–16).
How have you experienced God’s grace and truth in gentle, indirect ways? How can His gentle ways help you relate to others?
Dear God, thank You for the gentle ways You reveal Your goodness, grace, and truth to me. Help me to find patience and rest as I trust in Your loving care.
In Ephesians 1–3, Paul established who we are and what we have in Christ. Now in chapter 4, he switches to how this new life in Jesus ought to be lived out. Significantly, he leads with humility (v. 2)—a trait that runs counter to the values of the culture both then and now. Next, he emphasizes unity. The gentle humility he calls for is vital for this unity (v. 2). Interestingly, Paul was a prisoner at the time of this writing, bringing significance to his quotation in verse 8 of a psalm that twice mentions prisoners (Psalm 68:6, 18).