Ephesians 4:1-3, I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The New Testament presents the idea of living the Christian life as one of imitating Jesus in all our actions. Not being an “imitation” Christian but instead letting the life of Jesus be the pattern that we follow. For example, a man is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). Also, we are to forgive “as the Lord has forgiven you” (Colossians 3:13). Jesus laid down His life for us therefore we ought to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16). The Bible presents our life as a race in which we are “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2). Indeed, we are to walk worthy of our calling.
Many people believe that following in the footsteps of Jesus will always be a pleasant experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our suffering is part of the process of our being glorified with Him (Romans 8:17). God uses suffering and difficulty to make us Christ-like. This is part of the process of our growing to maturity as Christians. Since Christ perfectly obeyed His Father in the face of great suffering, our obedience, trust and patience in suffering picture what Christ is like and, in the face of it, we bring more honor to Him.
Paul was in prison thinking of his Christian brothers. Let’s look at Acts 28:17. After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Paul was arrested in Jerusalem while carrying out a Jewish ritual and not preaching Christ. After he was arrested he was taken to Caesarea for protection from the Jews. In order that he not be taken back to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar. That’s kind of like appealing to the Supreme Court here in the United States. Every Roman citizen had the right to appeal to the Emperor and Paul was born a Roman citizen even though he was a Jew. All the time that he was in prison, being taken from jail to jail, his thoughts were primarily for the churches and not for himself. Every opportunity that he had to write to them…
He was urging them to live a godly life. See what he wrote to the Colossians in Colossians 1:10-12. So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
To live in a manner worthy of the Lord is much more complicated than we realized when we first began our faith walk. When we begin to walk with God we began to learn about Him. We learn how to be pleasing to Him. But we will never learn all that can be learned about Him. Our God is so far beyond us that apart from Jesus Christ we would never be able to understand Him. His infinite greatness separates all of His creation from Him. We will be able to continue to increase in the knowledge of God throughout eternity. We do not stop learning and growing spiritually when we pass from this life into the one to come. I believe what we see now is hardly a glimmer of what we will see then.
When we live a life that is worthy of the Lord we will bear fruit in every good work. Work that we have been designed for. Remember, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
When we look at the life He has given us to live here on earth remember…
Such a life would be characterized by humility. This theme is common in Paul’s teachings. Let’s look at Philippians 2:3-8. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
If we are going to live a godly life we must look at everything said about Jesus and see how we can apply them to ourselves. Paul encouraged the Philippians, and us, to do nothing from selfish ambition. He continues by asking us to look out for the interests of others for Christ’s sake not just considering our own interests. Jesus’ life is the most amazing example of this kind of humility ever seen.
We are to have the same attitude that Jesus did. He existed forever as part of the triune God. He did not hang on to His Deity instead He emptied Himself and took on the shape of a servant. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, left the glory of heaven to come to the gloom of earth. Jesus did the unimaginable in not only taking human form and being born as an infant but, beyond that, the Creator of the universe learned to crawl and then to stand and walk. He learned to talk just as all of us had to. He lived a perfect life and then allowed the Romans to beat Him nearly to death and nail Him to a cross. When He did that He took our sins upon Himself and gave us, in place of that, God’s righteousness.
The deepest part of His humility was when He became sin for us. He had no sin of His own and therefore was not required to die. Only the soul that sins faces death (Ezekiel 18:20).
A godly life will be characterized by humility. And…
Such a life would include gentleness. Let’s look at the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
These are characteristics that we will desire more and more as we come closer to the time that we join our Lord in physical presence. The fruit of the Spirit is love. That love produces joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If we are to walk worthy of our calling we will be determined to be like Christ in every possible way. Our manner of life will have a massive effect upon our ability to share the gospel with others. When we follow in Jesus’ steps we will allow His peace to rule in our hearts. As we become more and more hungry for Him we will let His word dwell in us (Colossians 3:15-16). The same attitude of gentle humility that marked the life of Jesus on earth will also mark our life as we grow closer to Him. We will reflect humility and gentleness…
And be marked by patience and tolerance. Let’s look at Colossians 3:12-14. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
One of the reasons the Christian church does not operate in perfect harmony -- I’ll go further than that! One of the reasons the local church does not have harmony is that we are not patient with others and certainly not tolerant of others. Being tolerant of a person does not mean that you have to approve everything that they do or say. Being tolerant means that we will patiently wait on God to change them. If we can persuade someone to change by our own intolerant attitude they will not be convinced of it in themselves and that change will not stick.
We are to bear with one another and that simply means being tolerant of their differences with us. If we have a complaint against another believer we must forgive them. Our only hope of heaven is that God has forgiven us in Christ. If we’re going to be God-like we will be forgiving. Because God is forgiving we will also be forgiving.
Christians are to love one another as Christ loved us. If we will simply take on a God-like lifestyle we will be happier and those who love us and have to bear with us will also be happier. You see, when we are loving towards others — allowing the fruit of the Spirit to flow through us — we will become much easier to live with! Our local church should always be marked with love! Remember, love is not a feeling it is a lifestyle. When we do loving things we become more loving towards those that we have interacted with and they will feel more loving towards us.
I don’t know about you but I need to be loved. Therefore I need to love others and consider them better than myself (Philippians 2:3). If we are to act in a genuine loving way it will certainly require gentleness and humility. If we want God’s blessings on this church we will individually work at living a godly life. We will be gentle with others and we will be patient and tolerant of the differences that are reflected in their lives.
I’m not saying that we must approve anything that is ungodly or that is clearly against God’s word. But we need to be gentle in our attitude toward others. When we do this…
The result will be peace in the body. Let’s look at Paul’s words in Romans 14:17-19. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Too often the Christian life is considered to be simply following the rules. That’s wrong on many different levels. The kingdom of God is not a matter of rules — the letter kills but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! When we live this kind of life we are acceptable to God. That is probably the most important thing that we could consider – being acceptable to God! It is my desire to live a life characterized by godly attitudes and outlooks. I want my life to be marked by peace and joy and not by disorder and confusion. We need to do everything that we possibly can to reflect the kind of love that God has for us and for all of those who will believe in Him.
Paul had every reason to think of himself and his own personal needs while waiting in the prison in Rome. He left that prison when the executioner cut off his head. He knew it would be so and yet he was constantly concerned for the churches. He was urging the believers to live a godly life. A life marked by humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance. Then he assured us that we will be able to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! I pray that that always characterizes this church and our outreach to our community.
Our worthy walk is not simply a matter of mimicking Jesus’ actions nor the actions of the Apostle. We’re not just seeking to impress other people we are instead seeking to live in a way that is pleasing to God. When we act like Christ we become like Christ. We will grow up to maturity (Ephesians 4:13, 15). We will be “changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The result will be that we will become like Jesus, because God has predestined us “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Praise God “when He appears, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Our desire should be that Christ be glorified in us (2 Thessalonians 1:10-12; John 17:10). We will never lose our individuality as we grow to be like Christ. Out of this maturity will grow the kind of unity that brings glory to God in the church. Have you repented of your sin and believed on the Lord Jesus Chriat? This could be your day of salvation.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.