“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
What does is mean to “live worthy”? In this verse, the Apostle Paul is imploring, or begging believers to live in a manner in keeping with God’s call upon their lives. In other words, in light of who God is and what he has done, a believer should be the person God wants them to be.
“To live,” in this verse, can also be translated as “to walk.” The word “walk” is frequently used in the New Testament to refer to a believer’s day-to-day Christian living. As a matter of fact, the believer’s daily “walk” is the theme of the last three chapters of the book of Ephesians.
Paul said that our “walk,” or life, should be “worthy.” According to the Greek, worthy means, “proper,” or “in harmony with.”
The root meaning of this Greek word pictures a set of balance scales with the idea that what is on one side of the scale should be equal in weight to what is on the other side.
For example, a believer should give eight hours of work for eight hours of pay. In Paul’s analogy, a believer’s day-to-day Christian life should correspond with being a child of God.
We might say, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
“Calling” here literally refers to “the divine invitation to embrace salvation.” The New Testament clearly teaches that God “calls” men to salvation.
Here are three examples:
- “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
- “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)
- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
If God did not “call” men to salvation, then no one would be saved because the natural man does not seek God (Romans 3:11). God seeks man (Luke 19:10). This is why salvation is described in the New Testament as a “high calling” (Philippians 3:14), a “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1), and a “holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Believers are to live in a manner equivalent to the “great salvation” that God has freely bestowed (Hebrews 2:3).
How are we to live? Paul goes on to say in our main passage:
“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)
In these two verses, Paul listed five virtues that if implemented into a believer’s life, would result in a “worthy walk”:
1. Humility. In the Greek, it means “modesty,” or the “correct estimate of oneself.”
Humility is the most foundational of all Christian virtues and yet it is the most elusive. If we focus on it too much, it will turn into pride. Humility is the proper view of ourselves in light of a proper view of who Jesus Christ is.
2. Gentleness. This refers to an inward grace of the soul that manifests itself in “a mild or gentle disposition.”
It is the middle ground of being angry without reason and not getting angry at all. Anger, in itself, is not a sin if we are angry at the right time, with the right measure and for the right reason.
3. Patience. This means to be self-restrained or to be able to endure.
The patient person accepts God’s plan for everything without questioning or grumbling.
4. Forbearance. According to the Greek, this means “to be patient with the errors or weaknesses of others.” It is only out of our love for God and our love for our fellow man that we can be patient one with another.
5. Unity. This means to be one or in agreement. The outcome of humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance is unity.
Unity is the by-product of believers being in harmony with God’s Holy Spirit, which directly results in us being in harmony with one another.
Today, if we are Christians, we will be walking for the Lord. Paul certainly didn’t feel like he was imprisoned to the burden of Christian living in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Instead, Ephesians 4:1 is referring to his being a willing, not-asking-for-my-freedom “prisoner” to life lived for his Lord and Savior, which means a life that looks very different from the world.
Let’s make sure our lifestyle matches our calling!
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