Today's passage is Ephesians 4:1-6 and it's talking about the calling that God has given to people like you and me. Let's go!
Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
On verse 1: God has a calling on your life. A calling is an invitation from God to live your life for a purpose bigger than yourself, for God's purposes. In individualistic Western society, we must be careful not to forget that the "you" Paul speaks of here is not to one individual person, but to a community of believers. So not only do you as an individual have a calling from God, but you and your brothers and sisters at church have a calling together as a spiritual family. At Thrive, we speak of that calling in terms of 5 words: Alive, Expectant, Involved, Outloud and United. Together as a church family we are called to worship Jesus ("Alive"), grow more like Jesus ("Expectant"), serve Jesus with our talents ("Involved"), lead others to Jesus ("Outloud") and love Jesus' family ("United"). You have a calling from God!
Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
On verses 2-6: How do you live a life worthy of your calling from God? It begins not with the things you do, but with the kind of person you are. Paul identifies 4 character traits we should seek to develop every day to help us live lives worthy of our calling:
1. Be humble (v2). Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It's putting others' interests ahead of your own.
2. Be gentle (v2). Remember that gentleness (or meekness) does not mean weakness. It means being in control of your emotions. Gentleness is strength under control.
3. Be patient (v2). You don't fulfill your calling overnight, but over a lifetime. So be patient with yourself, with others, and with God's timing.
4. Bear with others in love (v2). Part of fulfilling your calling is learning to work with others. We can all be difficult from time to time. That's why Paul emphasizes that we must "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (v3). In other words, stay united with your brothers and sisters. Fight for the unity of your church by loving one another well, putting up with one another, and staying committed to one another. It's about remembering that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father and Lord of all to whom we are called (v4-6).
Father God, thank You that I have a calling from You. I pray I would live a life worthy of that calling. Humble, gentle, patient, and loving toward others especially my church -- thank You that while the world often looks down on such traits, these are the very traits that will launch me in Your calling on my life. So every day may I stay humble, gentle, patient, and loving toward others, especially my church family. In Jesus' name, AMEN!