“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.” Ephesians 4:1-3
As I type these words today, I’m reminded of the inevitability of transitions in life. When one chapter ends, another begins. My family and I just said a very tearful goodbye to my dear sister and her new husband on a train station platform in Nuremburg, Germany, and we are now in the middle of our trek to Berlin. Tomorrow, we will fly over the ocean back home, and while this journey has been nothing short of wonderful, a new chapter will begin that I’m eager to start.
It’s not all that surprising to me then, that our journey through Ephesians also begins a new chapter, tone, and direction today as we open up chapter four. “Therefore” in verse 1 signifies the transition from the teaching of doctrine and position to the teaching of practice and behavior. After three chapters of addressing who Christ is, who we are in Christ, and what we should believe because of it, we enter into Paul’s instruction to the church in Ephesus on how to live their lives accordingly. Buckle up, friends. This is going to be a challenging and exciting ride. Life change is about to happen if we choose to submit ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word. Are you with me?
This isn’t the first time in Ephesians that Paul mentions his imprisonment, and he does so here again to remind his readers that there is a cost that comes with following Christ. Knowing that, he wants them to still choose a life of obedience, one that is worthy of the calling. The command to “walk worthy” is where I would like us to park for our time together today. Throughout the New Testament, the word “walk” is often used to refer to daily conduct or behavior, and this one word sets the stage for the remainder of the book. This is Paul’s way of introducing practical application. He doesn’t want them to only possess head knowledge. He desires heart change. The word “worthy” encompasses the idea of living a life consistent with your position in Christ, meaning that your walk should match your talk.
The command given is clear: “Walk worthy.” Still, Paul’s pastoral heart shines through as he follows up this command with a detailed description of what it would look like for them to obey this command. It starts with humility, a word not even found in the Greek vocabulary of Paul’s day. To be like Christ is to be humble, therefore it is quite possibly the most foundational of the Christian virtues. After laying the foundation of humility, Paul builds upon that with gentleness. If we walk in humility, gentleness (or meekness) is a natural byproduct. Then comes patience, which is also a result of humility and gentleness. Finally, if we walk in these virtues, our final destination and result will always be love. This is what it looks like to “walk worthy” of our calling.
If the body of Christ were marked by these virtues, this world would be a drastically different place. If the church were marked by these virtues, our seats would be full and our buildings would be bursting at their seams. If you and I were marked by these virtues, there is no telling the impact we could make for God’s Kingdom here on this earth.
Christian, the call today is to walk worthy. Represent Jesus well. Be the city on a hill for all to see.