Summary: A sermon on Ephesians 4:1-3
Living in Balance
©Copyright October 29, 2012 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Ephesians
Even I can tell when my tires are severely out of balance. The car and even the steering wheel start to shake. Balanced tires are necessary for your car to run smoothly. In much the same way we need balance in our life to live effectively.
As you read Paul’s letters one of the things you will marvel at is his balance. He helps us understand what is true by teaching doctrine clearly and effectively. However, he doesn’t leave us with notebooks of information. He also turns his attention to the practical aspects of how this doctrine should impact the way we live. Belief and practice must be in balance.
The unbalanced believer is either: frequently arguing over some theological construct or they may go to the other extreme and say “I don’t believe in doctrine” (which of course is a doctrinal assertion!). They say the only thing that matters is what “works”. Paul shows us what balance looks like. Let’s tune in as he begins to apply solid doctrine.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Live Lives that Are Worthy
Paul’s lays out an overarching principle: we should live in a way that befits the calling we have received. Let me stop here and remind you that Paul is NOT saying we should live lives that will be worthy (or deserving) of salvation. We will never earn salvation! He says we should live as those who have been granted forgiveness and new life even though we do not deserve it.
The word “worthy” in the Greek is the work AXIOS which is the word from which we derive our word axiom or axiomatic. An axiom is a self-evident truth. Paul is saying that we should like lives that are right, appropriate, and even obvious for someone who is called a child of God.
When Kate Middleton and Prince William were considering marriage I am sure that Ms. Middleton was talked to about the responsibility of living a life of royalty. Every “royal” knows that there is a certain standard of behavior that is required of their position.
It is the same with someone who serves as an Ambassador or even one who serves in the military. These people are reminded that they represent the United States and should live in a way that brings honor to their country. We see the same thing with teachers, Pastors and other public officials . . . position often dictates behavior.
Paul argues that since we are now children of God, we should live in a way that shows others that we have been made new in Christ. People should see the influence of God’s resident Spirit reflected in us by the way we live. Then he gets specific.
Adopt the Right Attitude
External behavior is determined by our internal disposition. Because of this Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” He gives us four attitudes or characteristics that should be evidenced in our lives.
The first attitude is humility. In the world humility is often viewed as a negative. Some see it as an indicator of low self-esteem. Christians however, view it differently. Christ told us that God esteems the one who is humble. Jesus is our model of humility.
This is a difficult concept in a society that is constantly telling us to “sell ourselves”; to “look out for number 1 (meaning us)”; and not to let anyone “take advantage of you”. Tim Keller has written an excellent little 48 page booklet on humility titled, “The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness”. He makes a keen observation,
Up until the twentieth century, traditional cultures (and this is still true of most cultures in the world) always believed that too high a view of yourself was the root cause of all the evil in the world. What is the reason for most of the crime and violence in the world? Why are people abused? What are people cruel? Why do people do the bad things they do? Traditionally, the answer was hubris – the Greek word meaning pride or too high a view of yourself. Traditionally, that was the reason given for why people misbehave.
But, in our modern western culture, we have developed an utterly opposite cultural consensus. The basis of contemporary education, the way we treat incarcerated prisoners, the foundation of most modern legislation and the starting point for modern counseling is exactly the opposite of the traditional consensus. Our belief today – and it is deeply rooted in everything – is that people misbehave for lack of self-esteem and because they have too low a view of themselves.