Walk In a Manner Worthy of the Calling
February 10, 2019
The Christian life has a profound order to it. And Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has a profound order to it as well. There is the gospel first. And then there is the law after. There is everything that Jesus has done for us. And then there is everything that we ought to do for Jesus. There is grace. And then there is gratitude. There is God’s love for us. And then there is our love for God.
And… there is the first half of Ephesians: chapters 1-3. And then there is the second half of Ephesians: chapters 4-6.
Today we enter into the second half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This is an important moment for us. Up to this point, I have spoken to you about how we have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing, how we are lavished by the riches of God’s grace, how we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, and how we are God’s workmanship and God’s holy temple. Up to this point, I have given you words of comfort.
But from now on, I will give you words of challenge. From now on, I will speak to you about how we must love one another in unity, how we ought to imitate our God who is righteous and holy, how we must love our spouses, honor our parents, and obey our masters, and how we are to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God. It’s going to feel a little different now. But that is good. Because God’s law is good.
As we step into the second half of this book, we are immediately given a beautiful and important concept. It turns out that Ephesians 4-6 is very much about… people. The Christian life very much comes down to how we relate to our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you want to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, then maintain unity in the church.
Unity in the church is not an easy thing to have. No believer in Christ is perfect. Every brother and sister in Christ has sin issues. We all make mistakes. And there is often conflict in relationships. People have weaknesses and short-comings. People can find it difficult to get along well. Unity in the church is not easy.
But it is worth noting here that we are not responsible for creating unity. We are responsible for maintaining it. God creates unity in the church by the work of the Holy Spirit. There is already a spiritual unity of all genuine believers in Christ. But we are commanded here in Scripture to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Unity is a gift from God, and it is a gift that we are supposed to keep and not mess up.
So here are four ways to keep true unity: humility, gentleness, patience, and love. This is really interesting. Many churches try to have unity by man-made strategies. Some think that unity starts with a strong leadership team that is on the same page or a shared vision statement or set of values. Others think that unity comes down to having good communication. Some think that unity starts with making meaningful connections and spending quality time fellowshipping with one another. Others think that unity comes down to shared culture or similar personality or the fact that everyone’s wearing the same t-shirt. None of these things are bad things. But none of these things can substitute what we have here in Scripture. God knows the ultimate ingredients for keeping true unity. God calls us to have humility, gentleness, patience, and love. If you have great leadership or communication or fellowship or t-shirts but you don’t have humility, gentleness, patience, and love, then you will not be able to have true unity. You will only be able to have fake unity.
I would like to go through the four ingredients of true unity. They are not complicated. Most of you probably know them already. But I hope the following will be a refreshing reminder for unity.
The first ingredient of true unity is humility. A humble person is someone who looks like a servant. A humble person looks at others as more important or significant than himself or herself. A humble person is not proud in relation to others.
The second ingredient of true unity is gentleness. A gentle person is someone who feels like a blanket. A gentle person is tender and soft and compassionate toward others. A gentle person is not harsh or dramatic in relationships.
The third ingredient of true unity is patience. A patient person is someone who is good at waiting. A patient person gives others time to learn and grow and change. A patient person does not get frustrated or annoyed at people.
The fourth ingredient of true unity is love. A loving person is someone who cherishes others deeply. A loving person has great joy when he or she thinks about others. A loving person has no hate in his or her heart.
So there you have it: humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These are the ingredients for maintaining true unity in the church. And these are all key characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant for us. Jesus is gentle and patient toward us as we grow in his grace. Jesus loves us no matter what.
And we are united with Christ. We are becoming more and more like him.
Dear brother, dear sister, are you humble? Are you gentle? Are you patient? Are you loving? If so, then great! If not, then let’s work on this. We are talking about the royal law of God. Perhaps you realize that you only think about yourself first in your life. If so, then let’s work on humility. Perhaps you admit that you are harsh in your words or actions toward others. If so, then let’s work on gentleness. Perhaps you confess that you’ve given up on someone. If so, then let’s work on patience. Perhaps you are guilty of hatred toward a particular person. If so, then let’s work on love.
Let us do this thoughtfully and intentionally. It is a good idea to really sit down and go through this list carefully. Be aware of opportunities to practice being more humble or gentle. Practice over and over again being patient and loving. Shake off your bad days and mistakes and regrets and don’t get discouraged. Try and try again.
In other words, be eager. Be active and take initiative to improve in the areas of humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Consider your list of things that you want to accomplish in your week or in your life and put humility, gentleness, patience, and love at the top of that list. That is eagerness. Think about such things all the time. Let us consume your heart and mind. This is true Christianity. This is what is really looks like to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
And remember that God’s people are God’s people. Think of right now one person that you find difficult to be humble or gentle or patient or loving towards. The person might be a Christian friend from school. The person might be someone at church who confesses Christ. The person might be your very own family member or spouse who believes in Jesus. Think of that person in your mind right now and listen to what I am about to say about that person.
He or she has been saved by the body and blood of Christ. Jesus died for that person you are thinking about. Jesus rose again for that person. You may not love that person, but Jesus does. Just like he loves you.
Jesus did something very special in that person’s life. That person is part of the same body that you a part of. That person has the same Spirit that you have dwelling in you. That person has the same hope as yours. That person bows his or her knee to the same Lord. That person confesses the same faith as you. That person has been baptized into the same death as you and united with the same Jesus as you. That person cries out to the same Father as you.
Therefore, dear saint, be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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. This is what God wants from you. May you obey the word of the Lord.