"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to 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, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:1-6)
In Chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul is transitioning to the application portion of his letter. Because of everything that was taught in Ch. 1-3, this then is how you ought to live.
“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling…” - This calling is the call of God unto salvation, of drawing His elect to Himself to enter into a relationship with Him. How are we to live? We are to live worthy of that calling. This does not mean we are to live so that we become responsible for the call, or that we ourselves are the reason for the call. Our lives will never be the reason for God’s gracious mercy upon our life, but because of God’s grace and mercy calling us to Himself we then ought to live worthy of that calling.
What does living worthy look like? V.2 expounds upon what a worthy life looks like - “With all humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love.”
"Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'.” (1 Peter 5:5)
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12)
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It is putting the desires and interests of others above your own. This is hard work in our individualistic/selfish society, but Jesus never asks His children to do anything that He Himself did not do first.
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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 emptied Himself, by 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. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:3-11)
He is our example, and as we look to Him we have our lives transformed by the Holy Spirit to look more like Christ. Living in humility helps build the body of Christ because instead of looking out for yourself, each member is taking care of and looking out for another. This strengthens the body, it builds community, it builds trust, and most importantly, it strengthens our love.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
Gentleness should not be seen as weakness; in fact, someone who is gentle is stronger than someone who is not. Gentleness is recognizing another’s weakness and frailty and using your strength - under control - to help, lead, or guide the one who is weak. Jesus Himself was described as gentle.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A community where harsh words or harsh tones are common is not a healthy community. A community where people are gentle - where the weak and hurting can go and find help, comfort, and rest - is a community where people aren’t concerned about their own status or appearance but on the well-being of the body of Christ.
Patience is hard to demonstrate because it can only be demonstrated when something is going wrong - during suffering, trial, hardship, or just dealing with an annoying little brother. Patience is long-suffering or enduring through the trial with faithfulness and peace.
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)
Things don’t always go the way you want them to go. Patience is trusting in God with your future and trusting in God with the timing of your future.
Bearing with One Another in Love
Love is what bounds all things and binds all things. Love for God and a love for your neighbor. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the body of Christ, how each member is distinct and gifted for different purposes yet united in Christ. He then goes into the great chapter on love, because love is the key character trait that should mark Christian living - love for God, love for your neighbor, love for the stranger, and love for your enemy. There is not one person whom your love should not extend to. There is not one person that is out of the reach of God’s love and, therefore, not out of the reach for your love.
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
May we be a church that builds one another up in humility, gentleness, patience and love. May we display Christ in everything we do, say and think. And may we bring God Glory in our city and in the world.