on Ephesians 4 :2
With all lowliness - It is by acting as the apostle here directs that a man walks worthy of this high vocation; ταπεινοφροσυνη signifies subjection or humility of mind.
Meekness - The opposite to anger and irritability of disposition.
Long-suffering - Μακροθυμια· Long-mindedness - never permitting a trial or provocation to get to the end of your patience.
Forbearing one another - Ανεχομενοι αλληλων· Sustaining one another - helping to support each other in all the miseries and trials of life: or, if the word be taken in the sense of bearing with each other, it may mean that, through the love of God working in our hearts, we should bear with each other's infirmities, ignorance, etc., knowing how much others have been or are still obliged to bear with us.
on Ephesians 4 :2
With all lowliness - Humility; see the notes on Acts 20:19, where the same Greek word is used; compare also the following places, where the same Greek word occurs: Philippians 2:3, "in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves;" Colossians 2:18, "in a voluntary humility;" Colossians 2:23; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5. The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The idea is, that humility of mind becomes those who are "called" Ephesians 4:1, and that we walk worthy of that calling when we evince it.
And meekness - see the notes on Matthew 5:5. Meekness relates to the manner in which we receive injuries. We are to bear them patiently, and not to retaliate, or seek revenge. The meaning here is, that; we adorn the gospel when we show its power in enabling us to bear injuries without anger or a desire of revenge, or with a mild and forgiving spirit; see 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:23; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2; where the same Greek word occurs.
With longsuffering, ... - Bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 13:4. The virtue here required is that which is to be manifested in our manner of receiving the provocations which we meet with from our brethren. No virtue, perhaps, is more frequently demanded in our contact with others. We do not go far with any fellow-traveler on the journey of life, before we find there is great occasion for its exercise. He has a temperament different from our own. He may be sanguine, or choleric, or melancholy; while we may be just the reverse. He has peculiarities of taste, and habits, and disposition, which differ much from ours. He has his own plans and purposes of life, and his own way and time of doing things. He may be naturally irritable, or he may have been so trained that his modes of speech and conduct differ much from ours. Neighbors have occasion to remark this in their neighbors; friends in their friends; kindred in their kindred; one church-member in another.
A husband and wife - such is the imperfection of human nature - can find enough in each other to embitter life, if they choose to magnify imperfections, and to become irritated at trifles; and there is no friendship that may not be marred in this way, if we will allow it. Hence, if we would have life move on smoothly, we must learn to bear and forbear. We must indulge the friend that we love in the little peculiarities of saying and doing things which may be important to him, but which may be of little moment to us. Like children, we must suffer each one to build his play-house in his own way, and not quarrel with him because he does not think our way the best. All usefulness, and all comfort, may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, a crabbed temper of mind - a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament. A spirit of fault-finding; an unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied - your husband or your wife cannot tell why - will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing.
It is in such gentle and quiet virtues as meekness and forbearance, that the happiness and usefulness of life consist, far more than in brilliant eloquence, in splendid talent, or illustrious deeds, that shall send the name to future times. It is the bubbling spring which flows gently; the little rivulet which glides through the meadow, and which runs along day and night by the farmhouse, that is useful, rather than the swollen flood or the roaring cataract. Niagara excites our wonder; and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God there, as he "pours it from his hollow hand." But one Niagara is enough for a continent or a world; while that same world needs thousands and tens of thousands of silver fountains, and gently flowing rivulets, that shall water every farm, and every meadow, and every garden, and that shall flow on, every day and every night, with their gentle and quiet beauty. So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds only, like those of Howard - not by great sufferings only, like those of the martyrs - that good is to be done; it is by the daily and quiet virtues of life - the Christian temper, the meek forbearance, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, the neighbor - that good is to be done; and in this all may be useful.
on Ephesians 4 :2