“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
— Ephesians 4: 1b-3
Here’s a thought.
You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you spilling your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? Because someone bumped into you! Wrong answer. You spilled your coffee because there was coffee in your cup. If there had been tea in the cup you would have spilled tea because whatever is inside the cup will spill out when bumped. So, the better approach is to ask ourselves; what's in my cup? Going a step further is to ask ourselves, when life gets tough, what spills over?
The church in Ephesus was experiencing a lot of “spill over”. God had brought them together, a new community of Jews and Gentiles, in one baptism; and had blessed their unity. But there were a lot of bumps along the way to forming this new community and some of the “spillage” wasn’t helpful.
Around Chapter 4, the writer of Ephesians begins to shift the focus from blessing to instruction, encouraging the people to consider God, to whom they now belong, and how they have been transformed by the love of Christ to live differently. Will they fill themselves with gratefulness, peace and love so that what spills out will build community? Or will they fill themselves with bitterness, malice and resentment spilling out division and harm?
A Cherokee Chief was teaching his grandson about life.
"A fight is going on inside me" he told the young boy, "a fight between two wolves. The Dark one is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, superiority, and ego."
He continued, "The Light Wolf is good – he is peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside of you my grandson and inside of every person on this earth.”
The grandson pondered this for a moment, then asked, "Grandfather, which wolf will win?"
The grandfather smiled and said, "The one you feed".
When life happens and shakes you up (which it will) whatever is inside of you is going to spill out. Yes, you can fake it for a time, even avoid the bumps to a certain degree. But eventually, you’ll get rattled, shook up and out it will come. When that happens, whatever is in your cup is going to spill over. Let us work at filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, kindness and compassion for others so that what spills out is loving and life-giving.
God provides the cup, you choose how to fill it.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ has loved us”.
— Ephesians 5: 1-2a