Bearing with one another, being kind to one another, forgiving one another, and doing so with humility, gentleness, and patience – these are commanded in Scripture.
Christ prayed for unity among believers, and every one of Paul’s letters speak about peace, love, and unity among those who claim the name of Christ.
Unity is easy to agree with but hard to put into practice. It’s difficult to love others when we want our own way, when we feel maligned, misunderstood, and taken advantage of. But difficult as it is, this is what God demands of us.
As a father of six, my household has it’s share of disagreements. Lack of love and peace often find their way in. Or, is it, that a lack of love and peace already exist inside the walls of my house and find expression from time to time? This is more likely.
My family (and I include myself) are sinners saved by grace. We are being transformed into the image of Christ, we are being sanctified, but we are far from perfect.
Fathers, you might find it helpful to study what the Scriptures say about unity among believers and teach and apply it in your home.
Here are a few points to ponder as you study the topic:
First – our Christian witness depends on Christian unity. Jesus said in John chapter 13, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Do you see the connection between loving others and your Christian witness? People will know you belong to Christ when you show love for others. This love is to be expressed to more than your biological family, but not less.
Even more important than people knowing you belong to Christ, is that people see a model and example of Christ sacrificial love when they observe your love for others. There is no greater love than laying down your own life for another (John 15:13). Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).
When we give up our own demands and desires, and sacrifice the things we hold dear in order to serve others, we are modeling the work of Christ on our behalf. As dad and mom learn to love each other this way, children will see the love of Christ being modeled in the home.
We can display an image of Christ truly or falsely by how we love one another. You may claim to be a Christian, but if you hold onto bitterness and anger toward another Christian, you proclaim a false view of God and your actions preach a false gospel.
Second, we must beware of the enemy of unity. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).
Satan is on the prowl around your home. He’s watching and waiting for the best moment to pounce. The enemy of your soul desires to create strife, jealousy, and bitterness within one family member toward the others.
Slick as a Wall Street marketer, Satan works by appealing to your baser instincts. He knows your hot buttons and he knows your weak spots. He not only knows your kids; he know you and your wife. And he’s ready to take advantages wherever he can.
Fathers need to be watchful of their own hearts first, then they can help guard their children’s hearts. The way to do this is to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6).
Don’t blame all strife on Satan; our hearts are wicked enough on their own. But neither should we be caught unaware and think Satan is no longer active and striving to find a way to break apart the love and unity we should exhibit toward one another.
Striving brings me to my third point.
Third, peace, love, and unity demand diligent effort. After three chapters of doctrinal truth regarding our salvation by grace through faith, Paul delivers practical admonitions to the church at Ephesus. He speaks to them about master and slave relationships, parent and child relationships, husband and wife relationships, and many other practical matters. But he begins chapter four with a call to bear with one another in love. This is of primary importance for believers. It is important in a local church and no less important in our homes.
Read Ephesians 4:3 in several translations and you will see the thrust of the Greek word. The idea is: striving eagerly, earnestly, and diligently – like a gladiator in training.
A half-hearted effort won’t cut it; God demands more from us. He commands us to work diligently to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As fathers seek to create homes where peace, love, and unity are prominent they must remember where the motivation to love one another comes from. Love for each other can’t be generated ex nihilo; love flows like water from a source. The source of our love for one another is found at Calvary. Jesus said to love one another “just as I have love you.” How did Jesus love you? By the sacrifice of Himself in your place. This is the Gospel, the Good News, it’s the well from which we draw our own supply of love for each other.