“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
Again Paul reminds me of my position first. The calling to which you have been called references Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, Ephesians 2:13 now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near, Ephesians 2:19 fellow citizens, Ephesians 2:22 a dwelling place for God; Ephesians 1:4-5 chosen, holy, blameless sons.
The calling to which you have been called – We have been called to Christ, issued the invitation for salvation and relationship with God. I need to understand that my walk can either be worthy or unworthy. He says to walk in a manner worthy – the word worthy in this sentence is being used as an adverb to describe the action of walking, NOT as an adjective to describe the walk you have done.
Worthy means “as appropriately to, as becoming.” In other words, as I walk each day, when I keep ever before me the truth of what Jesus did for me at the cross, the grace that covers me, the new position I have as His dearly loved child, the changes that He is at work making in me, I will tread my specific paths in a manner that reflects all these truths. I will begin to walk worthily, not because I am so perfect, but because I know the One who is, His Spirit is at work in me, and I desire to show little pictures of what He has given me to my world.
So when I reflect on my day at night, I do not look at a checklist of all I did that meets the criteria of a good Christian walk and tag the adjective worthy to my day. I seek to see how I remembered who He is and what He’s done for me and how I passed that on to my children, my husband, my friends. It’s a nuance but so important to me. For so long I have wanted a checklist and desired to hit the marks as a mother especially so as to ensure that my kids become this or that. But when I walk as becoming the calling to sonship, the calling of grace, the calling of relationship that has been given freely to me, there are no checkmarks, there are no marks.
So I either walk worthy of my calling, or I don’t. And there are distinguishing features of someone who remembers her calling – humility, gentleness, patience, enduring love and a desire to be walking with the Spirit in peace. But these qualities aren’t what create the walk, they are the outgrowth of the walk. My flesh desires the checklist – was i humble today? check. gentle with everyone? check. patient? mostly but I’ll go with check. (because really who is always patient?)
See, what I want to do is place human performance stamps on the boxes that are really attributes that grow from a life of faith. They aren’t humanly achievable. I can’t be these things for my people. I am not these things for my people. So I need to daily get my eyes off of me and center my day on the calling God has given to me. He has called me out with His redeeming love, He died for the fullness of my sin, the great draw of my pride, the self love that entangles me.
Humility – Why does this one have to lead out this list? Christ walked in humility. Philippians 2 details His walk to the cross in great humility but what I don’t remember is His humility to be a man at all. He wasn’t humble when He died only – He was humbled to be a baby, child, teen, and man. Yet He walked every day not reminding others of His greatness or power. He walked in humility. Phil. 2:3 Count others more significant than yourselves & Phil 2:6 Did not count equality with God something to be grasped were the descriptors of His life and His ministry here on earth. The essence of what sin is – seeking to be God or Godlike. Walking in humility with teenagers is very, very difficult. Just confessing. My desire often is to declare my great acts as their mother or my great knowledge. Jesus could have because that was his rightful place and yet He walked and emptied himself.
Gentleness – mildness, meekness – gentle strength, power with reserve and gentleness. Strong’s Concordance defines gentleness as meekness or gentle force, that “begins with the Lord’s inspiration and finishes with His direction and empowerment, a divinely balanced virtue that only operates through faith” My gentleness begins and ends with His hand. It is His work in me. True gentleness is only God driven because my flesh will push force over gentleness demanding my way or will lay down with a whimper and deny any strength for the sake of a false peace. When I care for my children from a place of faith, knowing my calling and humble that I would be welcomed as His daughter, redeemed, then God inspires what amount of gentleness is needed.
With Patience – this is the same patience that describes Jesus in 1 Timothy 1:16 and God in 1 Peter 3:20. This is not the patience that I excel in using which waits quietly, but with annoyance written all across my face so that my child knows I’m irritated but just being quiet about it. His patience is long-suffering, “waiting sufficient time to express anger to avoid the premature use of force/retribution that comes out of personal reaction/improper anger.” I need to return to the truth of His grace for me and allow the Spirit to work in me first. He will create and grow His patience, but it’s not from practicing some breathing techniques.
Bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit – to put up, tolerate; persist in relationship with someone in the action of love. The love referenced is agape love, a love completely sourced in God alone.
There will be parts of my day when I forget the calling to which I have been called, but His grace covers that. But there will be parts of my day where His wonderful love bursts forth in me and through me to show and highlight for my child a loving Savior, where I remember first whose I am and who is at work in me and then parent from that perspective and so point to the One who called me.