I love the story of Ruth. Here you find a woman who, after some tragic loses, moved with her mother-in-law to a foreign country. There she experienced a lot of hardship. She had no protector and no one who will provide for her, but in the midst of her difficulty she lived in a manner worthy of her calling. She is a great example of a woman who exhibited the character qualities Paul talks about in Eph 4:1, 2.
We too are called to “walk in the manner worthy of the calling”. This does not mean that we earn God’s favor by the way we live, but that the salvation we have been given in Jesus should lead us to live lives that honor him and bring unity to the church.
What does it mean to be called?
When Paul talks about a Christian’s calling he generally is referring to God’s sovereign working in our heart that draws us to himself, and by which we are made his (Rom 8:28; Gal. 1:6). We are called to “belong to Jesus (Rom 1:6), to be “saints” (Rom 1:7), to be his servants (1 Cor. 7:22), to be one unified people (Col. 1:15), to be holy (1 Thess. 4:7).
But how do we walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling?
Watch your Character (Eph 4:1,2)
Paul says we are to be humble, gentle, forgiving and patient. As these qualities were Christ’s, they should be reflected in those who have been called by him.
We have already covered humility in a previous post so I won’t spend a lot of time here. To summarize let me say that the humble have a realistic view of God and self. They see God as glorious, supreme, and all satisfying, and themselves as sinners in need of his mercy. We do not boast in ourselves, but in him who saves. We are not filled with pride, but with thanksgiving.
A worthy walk is humble.
A gentle person is sensitive and careful when dealing with others. I sometimes struggle with this toward my children. Of course I hug and kiss them, but in the midst of the whirlwind that is my life, I find myself speaking to my kids like a drill Sargent. “Time to get dressed!” “Don’t eat with your fingers!” “It’s time for chores!” “Don't sit on the dog.” “Do your math.”
A gentle woman speaks not only with kind words but also in a kind tone of voice. She is not loud, dictatorial, unfeeling, harsh or rough in her manner, but is reasonable if passionate. She is firm, but sensitive.
Many of us may not be naturally gentle, but it is something that can be learned and must be prayed for.
We must train ourselves to check any faintest risings of irritation, turning it instantly into an impulse of tenderness. The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. The Holy Spirit will help us to learn the lesson, working in our heart and life the sweetness of love, the gentleness of disposition, and the graciousness of manner, which will please God.” (J. R. Miller, 1896)
A worthy walk is gentle.
Forgiveness means not returning to the sins of others (not our childrens’ or friends’) a week, a month or a year after the offense, but extending mercy to the guilty, giving our complaint to God and moving on.
When I become bitter or unforgiving toward others, I’m assuming that the sins of others are more serious than my sins against God. The cross transforms my perspective. Through the cross I realize that no sin committed against me will ever be as serious as the innumerable sins I’ve committed against God. When we understand how much God has forgiven us, it’s not difficult to forgive others.
( C.J. Mahaney, Cross Centered Life)
A worthy walk is forgiving.
Patience is responding in a godly manner when we are provoked, like when your child gets out of his bed just as you are sitting down to enjoy that decadent piece of chocolate and a good book. It is slow to anger when siblings have been at each other’s throats all day and it speaks kindly to a husband who doesn’t seem to understand what you are trying to say.
“Patience does not ignore the provocations of others; it simply seeks to respond to them in a godly manner. It enables us to control our tempers when we are provoked and to seek to deal with the person and his provocation in a way that tends to heal relationships rather than aggravate problems. It seeks the ultimate good of the other individual, rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own aroused emotions.” (Jerry Bridges)
Patience is hard because it requires self control and putting other’s before ourselves and our agenda. It’s hard because it goes against our me-first nature.
The good news is we can grow in patience because we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, Christ as our advocate and example, and God as our strength. The difficult part about learning patience is that it generally comes through trials (James 1). There is no easy way to learn it. We only learn to practice patience in the midst of long days and trying people.
Paul urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling so that our lives reflect the glory of the God who gave us life. As we do this we not only show the beauty of our God, Paul says we also maintain unity and peace among fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.
How we live doesn’t save us. How Christ lived, died and rose again saves us. But how we live matters for our lives are to be a testimony of his grace.