Ephesians 4: 1-2
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
As we consider transitions, we acknowledge that whatever isn't surrendered in your life is unprotected. Whatever you haven't given to Jesus, you have you maintain on your own. Surrender always opens up a God-filled future.
This week we moved into the first few verses of Ephesians 4.
Paul opens by imploring the recipients "...to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (v. 1) Sometimes you get a telephone call and the conversation opens up something new, fresh and exciting. It's more than you could have imagined or dreamed. You are invited into a better story. That's the kind of call Paul is talking about here in verse 1. This is a call which is often costly and sacrificial, therefore at times we're not sure if we really want to answer it. At other times however, His call feels like an incredible privilege and blessing.
Paul says: 'Come into the calling.' The future God has for us is really dependent on the surrender we bring. Every believer has a call to display God's nature and character on the earth. The sticking point is that God's call isn't just personal and individual - it is collective. It comes to a community, as we see here where Paul is writing to the Ephesian church.
A collective call is more difficult than simply living out a personal call. For example, the sticking point in our own political climate is partnership. However, genuine partnership is key to a different destiny. The barrier to our future is often relational. This true in our marriages, our workplaces, our families.
Next Paul says: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (v. 2) Imagine if we applied this word politically, in our social media, in our workplace or in our daily interactions. What an incredible transformation would occur. The glory of God advances in relationships that look like this. This is what people genuinely yearn for.
How do we begin to develop that posture? Paul gives us 4 keys:
(i) HUMILITY: This means more than not being full of ourselves. Humility is a posture of self-surrender. Notice how in verse 1, Paul describes himself as 'a prisoner of the Lord.' He could have used so many titles and accolades to introduce himself, yet he simply calls himself God's prisoner. We can all be occasionally humble. However Paul is talking about a relational posture, a lifestyle of humility. It comes as we recognise the beauty, dignity and destiny of others. Every time you honour someone else, you humble yourself. The way to deeply humble yourself is to honour someone you don't like.
When humility and honour are missing, relationships break down. Take for example, in the home. Arguments and fights start because someone won't back down. They are sustained and escalate in the same way. If we would only consider the other's needs, say sorry, be humble - our relationships would be transformed.
(ii) GENTLENESS: There is a lot of talk about leadership but not so much about gentleness. We promote the forceful and charismatic while Jesus is seeking the gentle. Imagine the atmosphere in a workplace where people treated each other with gentleness.
(iii) PATIENCE: Paul is saying: 'Go past the quitting point.' Relationships in our culture are treated as disposable. If we each recognised other people as 'holy ground', we would discover God's glory within them.
Jesus said, "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25: 40) It's not necesaarily talking about the lowest in society, but rather the one who in our eyes has the lowest value. If we make the decision to cover them with honour, God will introduce Kingdom favour into our lives. Whenever I dishonour others, I prevent God's fullness from entering my life.
Jesus also said: "But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." (Matt 5: 44 AMP) In other words, don't let how they treat you determine your level of honour towards them.
(iv) BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE: One way of saying this might be: 'I don't know how I'm going to put up with this, but I will.' We all want people to bear with us, in spite of our own faults and failings. We tend to excuse our bad behaviour while we accuse others for the same thing. Make the decision in your relationships that, instead of exposing their weakness, you will call out their greatness.
Relationships are central to our future. They will become a barrier or a launchpad into our destiny. This relational health can't come through prayer, teaching, information or impartation. It comes each moment in how we decide to treat one another.