Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – The Qualities of a Spiritual Walk
December 28, 2014
Ephesians 4:1-3 – 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.
This morning we will begin our study of Ephesians once again. In the first three chapters, we find that Paul details much of the doctrine used by the church today. In the last three chapters, we find that Paul begins to look at the practicality of applying the truths that have been presented in the first three chapters. In many ways, what Paul details in the first three chapters he shows us how to live out in the last three chapters.
It is for this reason that Paul begins chapter four with an explanation of how we should walk out our faith to which we have been called and the grace that has been given to us. Paul begins by identifying himself with the fact that he is a prisoner of the Lord. Paul was a prisoner of the Lord not only in his spiritual position but much of his writings took place while he was a prisoner for the cause of Christ. Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome. It is of note that what the world considered a shame and a worse case scenario, Paul considered a high honor. To be a prisoner was not what someone desired. It was not the desired existence that one would seek. But Paul wanted everyone to know that his state of existence was not a hindrance but a blessing. This is a critical point to the rest of the Book of Ephesians in that Paul was writing these last three chapters from his philosophical understanding of being a prisoner. Paul is indirectly speaking to us that whatever your state of existence is in life it does not have to be a hindrance but rather it can be the very thing that God uses.
From this perspective Paul urges the church at Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which they have been called. Who is he talking to here? He is talking to the believer, the one who knows Christ. Walk like you are somebody. Walk like you understand the calling that is yours. Walk like you have been given a great gift and a great opportunity. In other words let the pace, style, and character of your walk match the calling to be a believer.
Please note here that Paul is not referring to one’s calling in terms of ministry but one’s calling as a believer in Christ. You see we must be careful and not segregate our lives in terms of the sacred and the secular. While walking worthy in our professional calling is important and critical we must also understand that our daily walk before the Lord is also critical.
The basis of this walking in our calling does not mean that we work to deserve our place in God’s favor but rather it means that we must recognize how much our place in God’s favor determines who and whose we are. You see the focus is not on our worth but on the worth of our calling. And the worth of the one calling us. You see we have been chosen and called by God for great things. We need to walk in a way that honors the calling of God in us. In so doing, we are not subjected to legalism but rather we are walking in the freedom that is ours in Christ and thus we find it a joy to serve God.
So how do we do this? Paul lists five key qualities we should exhibit as we walk in the calling of God. The first is we are to walk with humility and gentleness. While these are two separate qualities, Paul joins them together. The idea of humility is the same word that many texts translate as “lowliness.” This quality of lowliness is juxtaposed to pride and snootiness which is the way the world most often implores us to get ahead or to accomplish the tasks that are before us. As we look at the church, we are reminded that Christ is the Lord and the head of the church. To walk in humility is to understand who we are and what we are about otherwise we will try to circumvent Christ’s leadership/headship over the church and in us. True humility is an accurate appraisal of who we are. We can have a higher assessment of our lives than reality shows or we can have a lower assessment of who we are. Pride exists on both extremes.
The second quality here is gentleness. The idea here is that we are not harsh or demeaning in our approach to people especially those outside the church. The idea of gentle here is the same word as meek which is often used as a definition of the term gentle. This was a term that described Jesus. He was described as being meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29). This was also a term that described Moses as well in Numbers 12:3. Here it is said “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” In the world’s eyes gentleness or meekness is a weakness rather than a strength. But in the context of spiritual blessing it is a benefit that is to be desired. I recently heard a quote that was awesome. I must admit to you that I heard it on the TV show Criminal Minds. It said “nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is as gentle as real strength.” The idea of gentleness is the idea that we do not provoke others to anger nor are we easily provoked or offended ourselves. Meekness is in reality strength under control.
The third quality is patience. Patience is an amazing word. Patience carries with it the idea of endurance. It is the idea of pressing through without losing our cool. How many would say that there is certainly enough in the world today to lose our cool about? Of course most of us have heard the saying, “don’t pray for patience as the only way to gain patience is to go through problems.” Of course I beg to differ with this statement a bit. I believe that we go through things so that we know that God has worked patience in us not to develop patience. You see by going through the issues of life we quickly can measure our spiritual depth of patience. When confronted by adverse conditions in our life do we lose our cool. If so, why? What triggered that response in us. One of the key areas we must exhibit patience is in the imperfections of others. In the end we must remember that patience is a gift of the Spirit that is ours for the asking (Galatians 5:22). While it must be developed, it is already ours in Christ.
The fourth quality is that we are to bear with one another in love. Notice once again that we are not just to bear with one another but we are to do so in love. How many know that people will disappoint us and will do things that we will not understand? But no matter what one does we are to bear with them in love. The word bear is the same word as to have long-suffering. In other words, we don’t give up on people easily. We are to bear with them for the long haul. Love is what allows us to bear with another. Note however that this does not mean that we accept their sin or abuse in our lives. We recognize however that they are in need of a touch of God in their lives.
The fifth quality is that we are to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The amazing thing here is that the unity of the spirit exists as a core element of what God does in us. The truth is that while unity is evident in the residence of the Holy Spirit in us who works through us, we must maintain the unity of the spirit. We must strive to to keep the unity of the Spirit. Why is this important? It is critical because when we live in disunity or disharmony, the doorway for the enemy is opened and and we give room for the enemy to invade our church, our lives, and our relationships. The word strive means to work out it. We are to be aware of the things that cause disunity in the body and those things which cause division. Peace is not the lack of contention but rather peace comes in the midst of difficulty and trial. The end result is that God desires that we have unity in the church. He wants to accomplish this by us walking in the gifts that God has given us.
So let’s get down to business here. How are you doing at exhibiting these qualities? Paul’s exhortation is for us to walk in these things. We are to walk worthy of our calling. We are to walk in a gentle and humble spirit. We are to walk in patience. We are to bear one another with love. We are to maintain the unity of the spirit.
This is how God wants His church to grow and to be seen by the world. For much of these things we cringe because we struggle in them. But we must remember that the Holy Spirit is in us as believers and that is where we get our strength and ability to do these things. Sometimes these things seem impossible but we are capable of accomplishing them all through the power of the Holy Spirit.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
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