Summary: God created us to live a high caliber life that finds expression upward and outward.
A Life worth Living
Ephesians 4:1-16 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Intro: 1st 3 chapters of Ephesians focused on doctrine. The 2nd 3 move to exhortation or encouragement, charging or challenging the believers to live up to the potential they have in Christ. That is indicated from 4:1, when Paul says to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. In other words, their actions and lifestyle must weigh as much as their claim to be a follower of Christ.
Prop: God created us to live a high caliber life that finds expression upward and outward.
TS: In this passage Paul gives us some expectations for believers who want to live lives worthy of the calling they received from God – that is a life worth living!
-A Christ follower who is living the life worth living will…
I. Be Gracious to others (Ephesians 4:2)
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
-Sometimes I’m not sure we really get this humble thing - although I’m proud to say we are some of the humblest folks around.
-Seriously, it seems a bit contradictory to have a worthy walk and be humble about it. Yet, that is what God is calling us to do. One definition of humility is the lowliness of mind which springs from a true estimate of ourselves – a deep sense of our own moral smallness and lack of merit. Humility does not consist of self put-downs or self-loathing. Humility does not require that we despise ourselves, only that we see ourselves honestly through the grace-filled eyes of Jesus. Humility recognizes inadequacies, but also knows that God gives strength and ability with purpose. Humility recognizes that we exist to serve, not to be served. Every advantage and blessing that we have was given so we could serve others better.
-How we view ourselves and the gifts God has given us has a direct bearing on how we view others. That is why Paul started here – Be completely humble.
-Gentle is also rendered meek. It is an expression of humility. Part of the idea here seems to be the lack of resistance or aggression. We exercise gentleness of meekness toward God first, accepting His dealings with us as good without lashing back at Him or rejecting Him. But it must also flow out to our fellow man, namely our brothers and sisters in Christ as Paul writes about here. Deal gently with one another. Be gracious with God’s family. In a parallel passage Paul says, “Be tenderhearted, forgiving one another….”
-Also, be patient. Don’t get frustrated or angry at one another. Work things out and work together. People will come across the wrong way sometimes and really get under your skin. Keep loving them. Another part of patience is not giving up on people. If someone just isn’t getting it, keep praying for them and keep loving them. Bear with one another in love. Sometimes we just need to put up with one another. But realize that others are putting up with you. It’s much easier to see faults in others, be we have a few as well.
-So, to sum up verse 2, we need to respond graciously to one another in our words, actions, and attitudes. This comes from our hearts, which have been transformed by God’s grace at work in our lives.
II. Focus on what believers have in common (Ephesians 4:3-6)
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
-Unity takes effort and determination. Unity does not happen by itself! So Paul says to give it everything you’ve got and do it! Guard or keep the unity that you already have, and it will grow. There is a special bond, a spiritual bond, that exists among believers. I’ve experienced it when I’ve visited other countries and could not communicate with a believer there. Even though I couldn’t put the words together in his language to communicate and to deepen our friendship, I sensed a bond between us. We both had God’s peace in our hearts because we knew our sins were forgiven and we were both in God’s favor. How awesome is that!
-Paul goes on to remind his readers and listeners what the common ground is that they share together. They are all related, part of the same spiritual family, the Church, the body of Christ. There is one Holy Spirit who regenerates and empowers each member. All believers were called to one hope – the hope of life with God forever! They all believed in one Lord, Jesus Christ, with one common faith and receive one common sign of their faith in Christ, water baptism. And to top it all off, they all have the same Dad – one God and Father of all – He is over all, through all, and in all, living in all who call upon Him.