Go Back to the Beginning
“His word tells us we are completely received into a family, fully accepted, and seen as worthy. No striving or manipulation necessary. We don’t have to endeavor to be humble, gentle, loving, patient, or have it all together. We are already all of those characteristics because He made us in His image.” (Angie Roehm)
It’s not always easy to walk in step with the Spirit and live from the reality of who Jesus made us to be. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Not only is it possible, it’s our destiny. God has not called us to an impossible reality. He has called us to a beautiful promise. If we can discipline ourselves to live by His Word, He will prove Himself faithful and set us free from this world.
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.8 That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
What stood out to me…
I had a youth pastor once who always said, “whenever you see a ‘therefore’ in Scripture, your job is to figure out what it is “there for.” In this case, Paul is shifting gears. He has spent the first part of his letter focusing in on the wealth the Ephesians have been given in Jesus. It’s all about the rich inheritance they have as sons and daughters of the King. The second half of his letter will begin to zero in on their walk. With great blessing comes great responsibility. Perhaps Paul already figured out, that what we believe somehow becomes the way we behave. If he could get the Ephesians to see and believe who they really were, then they would naturally begin to act accordingly.
The Old Testament is full of examples where God came to His people promising great blessing after obedience. Then Jesus showed up and reversed the order. Truly understanding the blessing of Jesus empowers us to a life of radical obedience. It’s receive, then do.
Lets keep going. Paul says, “Since you have been given such a rich inheritance, live a life worthy of your calling.” In other words, you have been blessed, now live like it. And then he does one of the things I appreciate most in Scripture. He gives us a list. Don’t get me wrong, I love digging for the meaning behind the words in Scripture, but when something is specifically put out there the intentions are powerful. Paul doesn’t only tell us to live a life worthy of our calling, he tells us how to do it. No reading between the lines, no guessing, no searching through commentaries. It’s right there, out in the open, plain to see.
According to Paul this is how we live a life worthy of our calling
1. Be humble
2. Be gentle
3. Be patient with each other
4. Allow for each other’s faults
5. Stay united in Spirit
6. Bind yourself together in Peace
The thing standing out most to me today is how much work all of these things are. It’s work to stay humble. We live in a world that promotes pride, be proud of who you are and of all you’ve accomplished. Stand up for yourself. Hold your head up high, walk with your shoulders back. Humility means putting Christ first, others second and yourself last.
Patience is not my strongest suit either. I want what I want, when I want it. But God’s timing is not our timing. He isn’t in a hurry and rarely do we snap our fingers and get everything we’ve asked for. He is far to good of a Father to let us miss out on the process.
And other people’s faults drive me crazy, but you know what I realize, every time I allow the people around me to be less than perfect, I inevitably recognize my own need for the same grace. By not highlighting their “issues” I come to realize maybe it’s not only them with the “issue.” We are one body, called to one thing. He created us to exist together. To work together. To need each other. The Kingdom comes when we learn how to stop pursuing individuality and start pursuing unity.
This peace Paul talks about, well that would happen naturally if we took care of all of the above.
Perhaps the reality of the first part of Paul’s letter is what makes possible the second part. On my own I cannot stay humble. On my own gentleness is a far cry away, patience goes out the window before I finish my first cup of coffee and an allowance for the faults of others – well, don’t even get me started with all that is wrong with the people just living in my house! On my own, division knows my name and working together is an impossible suggestion.
But when I know who I am this list takes on new meaning. Chapters 1-3 tell us who we are. In these previous chapters (which weren’t chapters when Paul wrote them, but simply the first part of one letter) we have come to know ourselves and son and daughters. We have learned all about our rich inheritance and the blessings promised to us because of our Father. We have learned true identity cannot be earned, it is freely given. When I know my true identity and I know the identity of the Father who loves me, I am able to rest in His grace and accept His power to walk forward and “do” what I cannot “do” on my own.
You know what this tells me, if I am struggling with the latter, I simply need to go back to the beginning.
If I’m struggling with the doing, I need to go back to the being. Obedience is hard. No need to do it as a means to an end. Obedience does not get me identity. Identity gets me obedience. It is out of who I am I can best obey His commands.
It is a great blessing to be a daughter of the King, but that great blessing also comes with a great responsibility. A responsibility I am only capable of carrying out when empowered by His grace. I gave up “trying-harder” a while back, but today was a good reminder of why.
I will live a life worthy of my calling, not because of anything I will do, but simply because of who I know.
Thank you Jesus for grace. Thank you for my place at your table. I know apart from you, I can do nothing. Fill me with more of your Spirit today so I can live the live you have promised me. Give me grace when needed. Fill me with humility, peace and patience. Empower me to welcome the faults of others and to live aware of my own. Unite me with my brother and sisters beside me and use our fellowship to bring others into your Kingdom.
Reading Assignment for Thursday, August 13th: Ephesians 4:9-16