Today’s Text: Ephesians 4:1-3
Every profession has a set of trade standards that demonstrate excellence. For the carpenter, it might be miter joints that match perfectly. For the surgeon it may be minimally invasive procedures that leave virtually invisible scars. In either case, actions prove the reliability of their claims. The same is true when it comes to Christian living.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.“
Paul reminds people of faith that there is a standard of excellence for Christian living and encourages us to “walk worthy” of that “calling”. The word “walk” signifies the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life.
Our calling is to be a visible demonstration of God’s grace. To walk worthy of our calling is important for every Christian, but especially as we relate to one another within the body of Christ. It isn’t a difficult concept.
Summarized in three simple words: we need to “walk the talk.”
- Be real.
- Be authentic.
- Practice what you preach.
- Have integrity.
Who we are spiritually is manifested in our lives practically. Several identifiable character traits accompany such a life and promote unity within the local church.
Paul mentions “lowliness,” but not self-effacement or groveling, but rather, humility in contrast to pride. Pride is unteachable, agitates and divides. Pride is self-centered. Humility, on the other hand, is teachable, seeks the welfare of others and promotes unity. It is God centered.
“Gentleness” is power under control.
“Longsuffering” conveys the idea of enduring discomfort without fighting back. Gentleness coupled with longsuffering results in a spirit that doesn’t easily fly off the handle when provoked by the mistakes or unjust treatment of others.
“Bearing with one another” means more than simply tolerating someone. It is an active response to actions that is governed by love—sacrificial love that seeks nothing in return.
The above mentioned virtues are imperative to maintaining unity within the local church, which is the point Paul is making in this passage.
Paul’s purpose for listing these virtues is summed up in the phrase, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace“ (Eph. 4:3). Notice, it is not about creating unity, but rather keeping the unity already available to those indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Unity in the local church is not optional; it is imperative.
If we claim to be indwelt, empowered and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, the result should be peace in our local assemblies. Paul urges the Ephesians along with all people of faith reading his epistle to make a concerted and determined effort to guard the unity available in the Spirit.
Can you imagine the positive impact to the local church if every professing Christian took these three verses seriously? Walking worthy with humility, gentleness, longsuffering and forbearance not only prevents fractured and splintered interpersonal relationships within the body of Christ, but also preserves unity in the local church.
Follow Paul’s instructions in these short verses and you will live “worthy of your calling” and be a tremendous blessing to your church!
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) Detail of an ancient handshake: Relief Inscribed Stele (circa 403 B.C.) By Marsyas [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios