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Do Your Best



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


Most of the time, I put lots of effort into everything I do. In writing these devotionals I sometimes struggle over not just a phrase, but a word. Is that the right word? Is there a better word?


But, like most of us, there are certain times in life that I just don’t care how much effort I put into something. I don’t worry about whether it’s exactly right or not. If it’s perfectly straight or not. I really don’t care how things turn out.


After all, when I’m making dinner for myself, it’s just me. I’ve made so many bad meals that I know all my choices. One option is to just start over if doesn’t turn out of good. Another option is to throw the whole mess away and go out for fried chicken. And the third, cheap, option is to slather it in something that will kill the taste. Cheese sauce or hot sauce are good options to cover cooking mistakes.


But then there are times when I really want everything to be perfect. I carefully shop, making sure I have all the ingredients before I start. I’m more selective about the freshness and quality of everything I buy. I also carefully read and follow the recipe. I’m more cautious with measuring and cutting. I watch the cooking like a hawk to make sure it’s cooked just right.


Yes, there are times when we don’t care all that much, and then there are times when we care a great deal. This is one of those times when we’re supposed to be careful.


When it comes to keeping unity and peace within the Christian community, we’re to pull out all the stops. We’re to make every effort. We’re to do our best. We are to be determined to keep both unity and peace. We are to use all our effort, all our skill. We should be using all our strength, sweating not only the details, but also sweating from hard work to keeping peace and unity


It doesn’t stop there. As we make progress with peace and unity, we are to keep it. Keep it from slipping backwards. We are to be carefully watching it, guarding it. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get some peace and unity, so it’s worth keeping what you’ve gotten. You need to dig in so your peace and unity don’t slip.


Think about how athletes carefully set their feet, so they don’t slip. Whether it’s a baseball pitcher, quarterback, kicker, golfer, they all take time to make sure their feet won’t slip. That’s why athletes are very particular about their shoes. Baseball hitters and golfers are forever cleaning and knocking sand out of their shoes.


And why go to all this trouble to achieve and maintain unity and peace? Because they are that important. They are that valuable! They are that vital. Especially peace.


When you have peace, you have a whole lot more that the absence of conflict. Peace is only achieved when you are tied together with other people. To be at peace, you have to be attached to other people. And that means having contact with them.


You can’t be a peace with people you’ve never connected with. There is no such thing as peace with people you don’t know.


There’s also no such thing as instant peace. Peace requires an ongoing relationship with people that you are connected with. It happens more than once a month. Peaceful connecting happens over, and over, and over again. Yes, you build peace, but it requires ongoing maintenance, connecting, time, and effort.


The call for unity and peace is such a powerful message. Everyone wants them. People respond to blogs and videos about unity and hope. They want it in their lives. For them, their family, their friends. There is a place inside of us that wants unity and peace so very much.


But there is a price to be paid for unity and peace.


Looking at our relationship with God, our lost unity and peace with him were broken by us. We did the cutting off, running away. But he came after us, dying on the cross in his son, Jesus, paying that awful price to make our unity and peace with him possible.


Unity and peace within God came at a cost. And so does unity and peace between his people. If God was willing to sacrifice himself to restore our relationship with him, shouldn’t we be willing to sacrifice to restore our relationships within the body of Christ?


He did his best by sending his best. Jesus. We need to be like him, doing our absolute best to restore and rebuild unity and peace within the family of believers.


Noodling Questions


  • Do you care more, or are people more caring with you? Why?

  • Describe what “making every effort” involves.

  • What does “the bond of peace” mean to you?

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