This week I am doing sermon prep in Ephesians 4:1-6 for a message in September, Lord willing. In the text the apostle exhorts believers who desire to live out a worthy walk in Jesus to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The word for “eager” is variously translated “make every effort” (2 Pet. 1:5) or “do your best” (2 Tim. 2:15). In other words, there are some things about life in gospel community that demand our all. Paul argues in Ephesians 4 for those called of Jesus to His glorious salvation and made part of His glorious church that virtuous (see v. 2) peacemaking ranks right up there at the top of responsibilities in which we will want to excel.
That commitment will work itself out in various forms, but I want to talk about just one with the help of Jonathan Edwards from his work, Charity and Its Fruits:
All undue anger indisposes us for the pious exercises and the active duties of religion. It puts the soul far from that sweet and excellent frame of spirit in which we most enjoy communion with God, and which makes truth and ordinances most profitable to us. And hence it is that God commands us not to approach his altars while we are at enmity with others, but “first to be reconciled to our brother, and then come and offer our gift” (Mat. 5:24); and that by the apostle it is said, “I will, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).
So what does this mean?
If we take seriously an eagerness to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace such that we do our best in this regard, then peacemaking will take priority even over corporate worship. If we cannot overlook an offense, then we will make every diligent effort to meet with the necessary party to reconcile and not pretend to lift so-called hands in holy worship when we have avoided our responsibility to do so.
If applicable, you have between now and Sunday to do your best. Go for it!