The call of Christ changes a person. That change begins when we are saved – being justified once and forever – but refined continuously as we go through this life, walking with the Lord and maturing in the faith. This change should not only be evident to us, it should also be evident to others as well.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1-3
As the apostle Paul opens chapter 4 of his epistle to the church in Ephesus, he begins by reiterating how he understands his place in life – a prisoner of the Lord. We saw this exact same phrase used one chapter earlier in Eph 3:1: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”. As we learned when we studied that passage, Paul was indeed in prison when he penned this letter, yet he did not consider himself a prisoner of the Roman governor, instead he recognized he was a prisoner of Christ. The acceptance of God’s perfect, sovereign will no doubt allowed Paul to find joy, hope, and peace even while held in captivity. There’s a lot we can learn from Paul’s humble, uncomplaining recognition of where God had him.
In our passage today, Paul pleads with the church to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Christians are called to be different; we must be different! If the world cannot tell us apart from itself, we should seriously question the soundness of our faith and belief in Christ who has sanctified us in His blood, and is, at this very moment, making intercession for us as our High Priest before God the Father (Heb 7:25). Now being saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), we are called to live above reproach and to reflect Christ’s goodness, mercy, love, and justice in all we do.
Paul gives several simple examples of how to ‘walk the walk’ as a professing believer. We are to act “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” When you think about it, this reflects Christ’s life on earth and His character even now as our Intercessor. He was humble, suffering the death of a common criminal even while being the sinless Creator of the universe (Phil 2:5-7). He was gentle, showing kindness and love to the lost and destitute (Luke 5:24, John 5:8-9, etc.), and His gospel unifies the true Church through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 17:23).
Paul had similar instruction in his final letter to Timothy, where he wrote: “The Lord’s slave must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,” 2 Tim 2:24-25.
We too should strive to live in such a manner – a manner worthy of our high calling as Christ’s chosen bride. While the world seeks selfish gain, Christians must be the opposite, seeking the salvation of the unsaved, being kind, gentle, tolerant, peaceful, and loving. This doesn’t mean we are to blindly tolerate and merrily accept sin, either that of those who openly oppose Christ nor of self-professing Christians who are actively living in disobedience (Eph 5:11, 1 Cor 5:1-5). However, we should approach these situations with an attitude of humility and prayer, knowing that we, too, were of the same mind before we were saved (Eph 2:1-3).
Being a Christian is certainly not always easy. Jesus called it the narrow way for a reason (Matt 7:13-14), but it is the only road that leads to heaven. Let’s endeavor to live every moment today considering our divine calling as saints and slaves of Christ and glorify God at every chance He gives us.