Put forth effort to maintain unity

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 11, 2014

For the past several days I have come to a fresh appreciation and understanding of the words recorded in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (New International Version).

Gale has been at church camp all week chaperoning a carload of little girls, so I have had to fend for myself.

I have always known that I depend on her a lot, but this week has made me much more aware of it.  And I have a suspicion she will be wishing for my help when she starts loading all those girls’ bags back into the car to head home on Friday morning.

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Those who have traveled understand that the size of luggage seems to grow for the return trip!  But I have confidence that she will get it done; I am less confident that it will look as neat as it did when we loaded everything up last Sunday, however.

Missing Gale while she has been away from home is not just confined to what she does, although I am very grateful for her many contributions of devotion and hard work that she renders to our family and to our church.

It is about who she is and how being there for each other makes us a unified whole.  Christ described the marital unity of a man and woman in a most precise and beautiful way:  “So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).  God’s design of things is always perfect.

God has also designed His Church in a wonderful way to enable His people to enjoy the benefits of the unity of being His children.  Those who are members of the Body of Church through faith and commitment to Jesus Christ are instructed to nurture unity.

The apostle Paul stated that followers of Christ are to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).  If every follower of Christ would wholeheartedly obey the directives in those two verses church disputes would vanish, peace and harmony would prevail, God would be honored, and His work on earth would be effectively accomplished.

Verse 3 begins with an interesting and challenging phrase that is probably often overlooked:  “Make every effort.”

I have found in life that achieving anything of significant value requires effort—often times the effort is intense and challenging, but it is always worth the investment.

Recently during Vacation Bible School I observed a lot of effort productively going forth by a number of people working together as a unified team to minister to the children.

It resulted in bodies that were tired, but it also produced joy because of what was accomplished for the glory of God.  It was not a one person show, but a joint effort working toward a common goal.  Indeed, it was a beautiful sight.

We need each other in God’s family as we work together for Him.

The first verse of Psalm 133 expresses it well:  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”  It takes effort to maintain unity, but the rewards are priceless!