“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” —Ephesians 4:1 ESV
The Christian life is not a stand, but a walk in which we are to move forward. Many Christians will say they stand for this and stand for that, but satisfied with the status quo, they do not move forward. Paul tells us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Walking worthily of the Christian calling requires four relational qualities in which we are to make every effort in keeping the unity of the Spirit.
The first quality is in being completely humble, which is a disposition toward ourselves. It is recognizing that all we are and all we have is by the grace of God. Humility considers others to be more important than ourselves. If we are not humble, we are proud, and when we are proud, we will eventually fall. Secondly, Paul says, “Be gentle,” which is our disposition toward others. Regardless of differences, we are to be gentle and caring in our interactions with others so as to reflect the light of Christ in a world that can be cold and indifferent.
Thirdly, “Be patient” is our disposition toward our circumstances. Things do not always work out the way we had hoped, and that can aggravate and frustrate us, but we can learn from Paul’s experience. He is writing from a Roman prison, but describes himself as “a prisoner for the Lord.” If he saw his circumstances in the light of his enemies or an unjust judicial system, he would have every reason to be bitter. It was not Paul’s plan to be imprisoned, but he saw his circumstances from the perspective of a sovereign God under whose authority and direction he operated. Knowing God would use his confinement to further the Gospel, Paul epitomizes patience in his circumstances.
Fourthly, “bearing with one another in love” involves our disposition toward the world. We know loving one another is not the easiest thing to do, and sometimes takes a great deal of forbearance on our part, but Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The love Christ pours into our hearts is the reservoir we are to draw from that enables us to love one another and become fruitful disciples for Him.
No one is capable of always expressing humility, gentleness, patience and love, which is why the Christian life is a walk, not a stand. It involves a progressive work of the Holy Spirit with Jesus Christ the indispensable ingredient, enabling us to move forward and walk worthily of the calling we have received.