I wonder what you think when you read this phrase ‘to live a life worthy of your calling’? What response does it stir in you? For some it could be a feeling of dread, that there are demands being made on us that we may not be able to fulfil. The thought that we might not be good enough, not worthy, that we will fail and let the Lord down. But the words are an exhortation, written to inspire and encourage, not to condemn us….
Live a Life Worthy of Your Calling
To fully understand any random verse or statement we have to look at it in context. This phrase is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, who were mainly Gentile believers. The letter does not address any particular problem but lays out the purpose and role of church fellowship. Not only for our families and communities but also the declaration that the unity of the church makes to the spiritual realm.
Paul writes about our inheritance as believers, and the revelation of the mystery of the gospel, the unity and equality that comes through faith in Christ Jesus. He teaches on God’s purpose for the church, the importance of relationships, and our responsibilities in living the Christian life.
The first section of the letter concludes with a powerful prayer for the Ephesians – and for all believers everywhere. The prayer is that we might be strengthened in the ‘inner man’ by the Holy Spirit, so that through faith we will be rooted and grounded in love. Then we will be able to comprehend, in some measure, the magnitude of Christ’s love. All of this is to bring glory to God, and the prayer closes with a powerful declaration of faith, that God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!
Then the letter moves on, from the spiritual to the practical, with guidelines for daily Christian living. Practical ways to fulfil God’s purposes in the church and in our personal relationships, and so the next section begins:
As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Ephesians 4:1
What is the message of Ephesians 4:1?
The apostle Paul pleads to the church to live in a way that reflects Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. This is not a challenge about what ‘we do for the Lord.’ It is not a call to action to be doing more, or that we need to earn our ‘worth’ in some way. It is a plea to strengthen our inner being – the inner man or woman – by the power of the Holy Spirit that is within us.
Paul’s call to strength is through humility, gentleness, and patience – which might sound like a contradiction. In our society these qualities may be viewed as counter cultural, and not valued or thought to be desirable. In the cut and thrust of our modern go-get-me society they may somehow be seen as weak, but that is far from the truth. Humility and patience are displayed through gentleness, which is a characteristic of our Heavenly Father, and of His Son Jesus Christ, and a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.Psalm 18:35 NKJV
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.Matthew 11:29
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
Walk Worthy of the Gospel
Gentleness is a core strength. We understand that physically our ‘core’ muscles are important, they help co-ordinate all our movements. They contribute to our balance and posture. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities. Weak core muscles can lead to fatigue and leave us susceptible to injury and pain. It is also a good analogy of spiritual strength.
Spiritually the strength of our inner being makes all the difference, and the willingness to co-work with the Holy Spirit slowly bears fruit. The fruits of the Holy Spirit develop naturally, as we follow in the love of Jesus Christ, walking in step with the Spirit. It is the partnership of God’s love at work in our heart, and our response to the increasing knowledge of His love. Scripture encourages us to pursue gentleness and to put it on like a garment, clothing ourselves with the attributes of Jesus.
There will be choices, there will be things to avoid, but our walk with the Spirit is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is immersing ourselves in the love of God and soaking in His presence so that we become more like Jesus. Our desire grows, to move away from selfishness and to move towards Christ centeredness.
Related post: Choose to Walk in Love and Freedom
Live A Life Worthy of the Lord
The exhortation to ‘live a life worthy of your calling’ is necessary for Christian unity. The desire to live, work, encourage, and support one another flows from our love for the Lord. We respond to God’s love for us by making an effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in our relationships.
The inner strength that is necessary to live in peace with one another, as one body, comes from submission to God. A gentle spirit is precious to God and empowers living and serving in a way that reflects the Lord. When we are overwhelmed by His grace, we find the place of true strength, a surrendered spirit. When we are surrendered to the Lord, our hearts are soft and everything else flows.
Gentleness is not developed by being told to be gentle, nor by solely trying to be gentle. To pursue gentleness is to move away from selfish desires by pursuing Jesus! As we walk with Him and receive into our spirit the witness of His humility, gentleness, patience and strength. Then we can let go, no more struggling or striving for ourselves. Instead we receive God’s grace trusting in the Lord, the One who gave everything for us, who considers us worthy of His love. We are valued and precious in God’s sight.
Let your true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewellery, and fine clothes.1 Peter 3:3-4