Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”
I think, I hope all of us know, that none of us is worthy of the Gospel…None of us is worthy of the grace of God, and being called to live the glorious life to which we are called to as Christians…None of us is worthy of the love of Christ. Certainly we all know that. And hopefully we all know that there is nothing that we can ever do, or will ever do, or that Is even within our power to do…that will ever, ever, make us worthy of the love of God…
So, what in the world does Paul mean here, when he tells us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling?
Well, Paul isn’t telling us to work really hard so that we will prove ourselves worthy…we aren’t trying to earn any type of merit before God. We can’t do that, as we all know. But what Paul is trying to tell us here, is that we should live a life that is fitting and appropriate for one who is in Christ. Our lifestyles should reflect who we are in Christ…One commentator said that we should, “live lives equal to the blessings we’ve received in Christ.”
That is a staggering thought…That we need to live lives that are equal to the blessings we’ve received in Christ.
So, the question becomes…How do we as the church do this? How can we live lives that are appropriate of ones who bear the name of Christ? Well, Paul tells us…Jesus told us…
We walk in unity…
So then the question becomes…What does unity look like? How do we achieve it?
Again Paul tells us…
We walk…we live, “…with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”
Well notice that three “fruits of the Spirit” that Paul also talks about in Galatians 5 are mentioned.
Gentleness, Patience, and Love
So, we must understand first of all, that this is all a work of the Spirit. As the Spirit dwells within us, he changes us, and he enables us to live the types of lives that the Gospel demands of us.
So, does this mean we sit back and wait for the Holy Spirit to do his thing?
Absolutely not!! The Gospel…and the grace that we receive as a result of the Gospel is not an excuse for laziness or passivity…The Gospel and the grace given to us in Christ empowers us to get off of our lazy butts and do what we were created to do!
Glorify God…And again, God is glorified, Christ receives glory, when there is unity within the body of Christ.
So, what’s the first thing you think of when you see this list of attributes…”Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Love”?
When I read them, all I see is Christ.
So, how can we achieve unity within the body of Christ? By imitating Christ. By living as Christ lived…and we are to imitate Christ aren’t we? Ephesians 5:1 seems to think so…Paul says there to be imitators of God and to love like Christ.
So, let’s do what we should all do often, and spend some time thinking about Christ, and seeing how he put these attributes on display.
Let’s start with humility. Was Christ humble? Let’s look at Philippians 2:5-8
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross…”
Was Christ very humble? The God of the universe, making himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, becoming a man, and humbling himself to the point of dying on our behalf on a cross?
Yeah…I’d say that is pretty humble.
Was Christ Gentle? Well, he has certainly been gentle with us hasn’t he? We certainly don’t get what we deserve do we? Did Christ come in as a conquering king in power? Not at all…Christ didn’t come as a roaring lion…but he came as a lamb…of course we know that one day…this isn’t going to be the case…indeed one day he will come as that conquering king and that roaring lion…but this is what makes his humility and gentleness even more amazing…
Simply by the word of his mouth he has the power to conquer and pour out judgement…but yet he doesn’t…he has humbled himself, much to our benefit, and he has treated us with great gentleness…and obvious he is very patient with us…
When you take the humility that we’ve already talked about, and you take the gentleness that we’ve talked about…and you put them together…and when you know the entire story of who Christ is, and how Christ will indeed come one day in power…what is plainly obvious to me…is that Christ was not weak..
And I think many times, and I know you’ve all heard this before…but many times, people mistake Christ’s humility and gentleness and patience for weakness…but it is anything but that isn’t it…The Bible has a word that sums up these qualities perfectly…and that word is meekness…
Again, a lot of people mistake weakness for meekness, or think the two words are interchangeable…but that is not the case…Meekness is not weakness, but meekness is power under control…
Again, how do we see these qualities, humility, gentleness, and patience…his meekness…on display in Christ…Well…did Jesus ever retaliate when he was wronged, or when he was struck…even to his executioners as he was hanging on the cross he asked his Father to forgive them…for they knew not what they did…That is amazing to me. Jesus certainly wasn’t one to carry a vendetta is he? He was well aware that Judas was to betray him…but still he washed the feet of Judas just as he washed the feet of his other disciples…indeed all of them betrayed him…but how much love did he pour out on those men? Heck, how much love has he poured out on us, the filthy rotten sinners that we are?!?
Jesus, the Lord of creation, was and is always quick to forgive…Jesus was a defender of the weak and powerless…Jesus did not retaliate as he was struck and beaten and hung on a cross…Again, this Christ, is the Lord of all creation…yet we see him doing these things…forgiving, defending, and restraining himself…indeed he was the embodiment of strength under control. Power being restrained.
And, I think in this we see the patience of Christ clearly on display.
And in all of these things, we are to be imitators of Christ…
We are to live lives of humility. We are to be gentle and patient with one another.
The good news is that we don’t have to do these things alone. The Holy Spirit enables us and strengthens us so that we are able to do these things…But one of the major ways in which the Holy Spirit works is He points us more and more to Christ, and opens our eyes so that we can see Christ more and more clearly…And as we meditate on who Christ is, and how he lived, and what he’s done on our behalf…we are amazed, in awe…and then we desire to be more and more like him…and we work together with the Holy Spirit and He molds us more and more into the likeness of Christ…
And then we begin to see these qualities in our own lives and in the life of the Church. Then we as the church will truly be walking “in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”