Ephesians 4

This devotional is written by Trissie Coleshaw.

Ephesians 4

Unity and maturity in the body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

‘When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.’

9 (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Instructions for Christian living
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Ephesians 4 is a beautiful reminder of how radical the Christian life is. Written from a prison cell in Rome, where the Early Christians—Paul's community, his brethren—were routinely tortured and executed, Paul was still able to find grace enough to call persecuted Christ followers to 'be gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.' Such is the goodness of God, and the glory of what Paul witnessed in Christ!

In this passage, Paul speaks of the 'sensitivity' that is lost in the hardening of hearts. What we might take from Ephesians 4, therefore, is that by nurturing our love of God, nourishing it in community with other Christians, and practising it ‘in unity in the faith’, we allow God to make our hearts supple enough that we may feel His loving presence in even the most unloving circumstances. Through this and by God’s grace, we develop the maturity of faith to be able to share that love with others, even when times are hard, just as He shares his unfailing love with us, no matter what.

And so, Christianity isn’t simply a lifestyle choice by which a few small adjustments generate a deeper sense of wellbeing, as if it were a programme of daily affirmations, a 5/2 diet, or a burpee workout regime. It is far more muscular than that! Instead, when we follow Paul’s example, Christianity is the commitment to choosing forgiveness, compassion and service to others in all situations – even when the way of love, as God designed it, is rejected. Indeed, it is by choosing to live in conformity with the ‘righteousness and holiness’ of God’s compassion that we are ‘made new’ by Christ, for we are ‘created to be like God’. What is more, in our fidelity to the deep, trusting relationship we build with God through faith—choosing His way at all times—it is even promised that we might come to attain ‘the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’

So, take a moment to thank God for the incredible opportunities He blessed you with when He gave you life, and pray to be shown how you can bless someone else in need of compassion today. Fill up on God's eternal and indiscriminate love, and give it out freely and generously to others.

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