Worthy of the Calling
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
A Prisoner for the Lord
Paul was literally being held in prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was for the Lord, for his service, and according to God’s will that he should be in prison for obeying God, too. And, so he submitted himself to the will of God. I believe some of Paul’s letters to the churches were written during times of imprisonment, so the imprisonment served God’s purposes.
Paul knew what it meant to die to sin and self and to surrender his life to Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. And, he knew, too, what it was like to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for his gospel. He knew that the life of a Christian was a life of commitment to Jesus Christ. He knew it was total surrender to our Lord, holding nothing back. And, he lived it, too. So, he was very passionate about sharing these truths with other believers.
So, what Paul is urging here is not a mere suggestion. It is not a mere recommendation. It is more like a summons that someone might receive from a court of law to appear in court. It is more like insisting and urging strongly, with some sense of urgency to his call, to them and to us, too.
Walking in a Manner
We are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received from our Lord. And, we are called to belong to Christ, called according to God’s purpose, called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, called to be holy, called to freedom from slavery to sin, called out of darkness into his wonderful light, and called to HIS own glory and excellence (Rom. 1:6-7; Rom. 8:28; 1 Co. 1:9; Gal. 5:13; 1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:3).
And, to walk is what we practice, our habits, our lifestyles, how we live our lives day in and day out, the choices we make, the things that we do and think and are and say. It is our attitudes, too. It is the essence of who we are, being lived out through what we do. For, what we do reveals what is truly in our hearts, which is the core of our beings. And, what we do also reveals what we truly believe in the depths of our hearts and minds.
So, we are to walk (live our lives) in a manner worthy of our calling (listed above). And a “manner” is a way, a path or life course. It is a routine or custom (habit). It is our behavior and our conduct. Or, it is the quality or essence of what is worthy of our calling. In other words, the way in which we walk should be like our calling, it should match it.
So, if our calling is to be holy, which is to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into the image of Christ, then our lifestyles should reflect that. We shouldn’t be living like the world for the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. We shouldn’t be viewing material that is sensual in nature or that glorifies sin in any way. We shouldn’t be listening to music, either, which contains sexual or sensual lyrics or vulgar language, and that is dishonoring to our Lord.
And, if we are called to living in freedom from slavery to sin, then we shouldn’t be addicted to sin. We shouldn’t be habitually, willfully, knowingly, premeditatedly and in God’s face sinning against God in any way.
Our lifestyles should match our calling. And, we are called out of darkness (sin, wickedness) into his wonderful light (truth, righteousness). So, our conduct, in practice, should reflect this truth. It should be evident by how we talk, by our attitudes and by our actions that we are no longer walking in darkness but that we are now walking in the light of God’s truth, his love, and his righteousness, and for his praise and for his glory.
Humility & Gentleness
Just like meekness doesn’t mean weakness, so gentleness doesn’t mean lacking in strength, courage or determination. Gentleness is rather strength under restraint (controlled), or power with reserve, i.e. gentle strength, or a gentle force (1). For, Jesus was meek and gentle, and yet he cleared the temple and he spoke strongly to the Pharisees, as did Paul and Stephen.
Sometimes we need to speak with boldness and determination, especially when the enemy is attacking us fiercely and we are combating his lies. And, the closer we get to our Lord’s return, the greater this battle is becoming between truth and lies, and so it is calling for more “gentle force” or “power with reserve” rather than what we might often think of as gentle. For, gentle can also be interpreted as not making waves, and staying in your own lane.
As well, humility doesn’t mean you don’t take a stand for what is right. Humility is not lack of courage. It is not just being “nice” to everyone so that they will like you, either. It is not being ashamed of the gospel or being afraid to speak the truth in love, either.
Being humble means we aren’t egotistical, conceited, and continually bragging about our own accomplishments, or being self-focused where everything is about us, and for us, and for our pleasure and attention, etc.
But, it is recognizing our own humanness and our frailty, and of our need of God. And, it is submitting to the Lordship of Christ, and it is giving him the glory for whatever he accomplishes in and through our lives. And, it is dependence on God and not living in dependence on our flesh (self).
Patience, I believe, means waiting on God and allowing him to work and not trying to take matters into our own hands because we think he isn’t moving fast enough for us, or because we are convinced he needs our help. It is being steadfast in faith, persevering in trials and tribulations, and not letting the cares of this world or persecutions undo us. It is endurance in suffering and perseverance in faith even when we don’t yet see results, too.
But, patience, and bearing with one another in love is not tolerance of sinful practices. It is not the accepting of sinful lifestyles. It is not placating sin or making room for it or excusing it away or calling it something other than sin.
It is not making allowances for sinful practices to continue over long periods of time, either, giving the offender the idea that they are excused from guilt or responsibility. We need to speak the truth in love to one another so that we don’t fall prey to deceitfulness and fall into sin’s deceitfulness.
Unity and Peace
As well, unity is not compromising our faith, our convictions, the Word of God, and his commandments (New Testament), or moral standards, purity, honesty and integrity in order to live at peace, or to be united with others. The unity that we are to have with other believers is first of all unity with Christ and with his holiness and righteousness, and with His Word.
Unity and peace are never to come at the cost of what is right, what is pure and holy, what is moral, what God’s Word commands, and at the cost of our walks of obedience to our Lord. So, all unity and peace with others must be grounded in our unity and peace with Christ, which only comes through surrender to Christ as Lord, leaving our sinful lifestyles behind us, and walking in the Spirit in obedience to our Lord’s commands.
So, if we are going to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received from the Lord, it is not going to involve us making compromises with the world or backing down on our faith, or shying away from speaking the truth in love, or “staying in our own lane” in order to not offend anyone with the truth of the gospel. For, in everything that we do, it must be done to the glory of God, according to His Word, and according to His divine purpose and will for the lives of his followers.
When I Was Walking
An Original Work / January 16, 2020
When I was walking along the way,
My Lord was with me, and He did say,
“My child I’m with you. I hear you pray,
‘Oh, help me, Lord! Need You today!’”
He is my friend, near to the end.
Gently leads me. His servant be.
He helps me pray – knows what to say.
He’s all I need. On Him I feed.
When I am wond’ring of what to do,
He gently leads me to what is truth.
He is my helper. He strengthens me.
When I’m in want, supplies my need.
He comforts me with all His love.
Gives me His grace from heav’n above.
I heed His call to watch and pray,
To guard my heart throughout each day.
When He is calling to come to Him,
To let Him lead you, trust Him within,
How will you answer to Him today?
Will you say, “Yes, Lord, have your way”?
Do not neglect to let Him in,
Cleanse you from sin, made new within.
Leave all your sin, obey your Lord,
Trust in His Word – His mighty Sword.