Unity of the church is very important to God. The love we show one another is how the world sees our distinctiveness. (John 13:34-35). Arguments and divisions in the church show the world that we are just like them. When we sin, when we act like children arguing over petty things, and when we are too prideful to submit to one another, we show the world we are no different from them. We are just liars who tout good behavior but don’t back it up.
The world cares about promoting themselves. We care about exalting God. We want to glorify Jesus. The world wants to commend themselves. We want the Kingdom of God. The world wants to satisfy their own desires and avarice.
We are different from the world. We have the God’s Holy Spirit in us. He makes us divergent from the world. We seek the Kingdom of God. We live in the Kingdom of God. We are living eternal life. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. We are children of God. They are living dead temporary selfish lives. They are children of the devil, children of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Verses 1-2 read,
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Doesn’t that description sound like an elementary school playground? Yet it is a description of too many churches. It is no wonder the world calls us liars and hypocrites. Hypocrites always want to point out the hypocrisy in others. We give them plenty of ammunition.
We are not like the world. We have the Spirit in us. We are children of the One True Living God. We were saved by the blood of Jesus. We are able to love with God’s love. So we do not have to be envious of one another. We don’t have to prove our worth. Jesus is worthy. He calls us valuable. We are so cherished that He paid for us with His perfect precious life. We don’t have to argue with each other to prove we are better. James said, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” If your brother or sister has a gift that you want, if they have something you long for, don’t beat them down because God chose to give them that good thing, ask God.
But it is too often not that we want the spiritual gift, that Susie Q has in order to glorify God, but so we will be lauded for our power, our goodness, and our talent. That is not the Holy Spirit in us. That is our human nature, our passion for ourselves. We are supposed to edify each other, not build ourselves. When we are concerned with making ourselves look good, we are putting ourselves in the throne of our lives. That is worldly. The world says, “Be in charge of your own life.” The Kingdom of God says, “Make Jesus your Lord, Master, and King.”
When we seek anything other than God and His righteousness first, we are seeking the things of the world. Verses 4-5 read,
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?”
God loves us so much that He actually wants to dwell within us. He gives us His Spirit and in fact inhabits us! That is greater and better than anything the world has to offer. That is awesome. We don’t have to yearn for anything, anyone else has, including spiritual gifts. We, the church, share the same Spirit. We are unified in our desire to Glorify God. It is our diversity of gifts that unifies us further. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 reads,
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Our gifts are not for our own good but the common good. But if we do long for more spiritual gifts for God’s glory, He encourages us to ask for them and He will give them to us. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 Paul said, to earnestly desire the higher gifts. He then spoke at length about love and what love is. Love is the highest gift there is, and as believers we have all received Love, His name is Jesus, His Spirit abides in us. After his discourse on love, Paul said, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1). God doesn’t tell us to ask for things and then not give them to us. Jesus said “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24).
Submission to Christ first and then to one another is what sets us apart from the world. Pride is their downfall, humility is our redemption. In meekness and with modesty we are able to love as Jesus loves. In unpretentiousness and sincerity we are able to recognize the sin in us and repent. The human nature says we should embrace those flaws and celebrate them. The Spirit says to confess, repent and seek God’s righteousness. Verses 6-9 read,
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
If you resist the devil and his pride, he will flee from you. He will bolt from you because he is a coward and a liar and you are a victorious powerful child of the Almighty. And when you draw near to God, when you seek Him first, He draws closer to you. He brings you to Him. But we can’t draw near to God when our pride keeps us ignoring our sin and acting like the world.
We cannot serve the world and God. You can’t have two masters. The world is the very opposite of the Kingdom of God. The devil is completely opposed to God. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
We don’t have to argue with each other, fight for glory, or try to get people to recognize our worth. In submission to Christ we glorify Him together with our variety of gifts. We know Jesus is worthy. We know God considers each of us so precious that He gave Jesus in order to let us know Him. We have the promise that in our submission to Christ and one another, in our humility God will exalt us. That is deep! God, our Creator, the LORD God will raise us up! Verse 10 says,
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Examine your motives today. Are you promoting yourself or God? Do you want to satisfy your own yearnings or do you seek God’s will? Do you genuinely pursue love or do you pursue self-importance? Give it to God, repent, cleanse your hands, resist the devil, draw near to God and let God nurture you and make you to the image of Christ.
“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.” By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”