The road that was my usual route was closed for construction, so I was late. I rushed up the concrete steps and pushed open the heavy, screeching double doors by pushing on the levered crossbar. I burst into the large room to see two dozen high school students sitting around the “U” table formation, all facing the white board. They were respectfully waiting to learn, but their teacher hadn’t shown up.
Even the brightest, most motivated students couldn't know what I planned on teaching that day. My lesson was not in the textbook because it was based on unpredictable current events and how the media was spinning those events. If I hand’t arrived, the show couldn’t have gone on as planned. That particular day, in order to meet the agenda for that class, a teacher was needed. For people to learn and grow, teachers are needed in life. They are also needed in the church.
In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul teaches that Jesus called people to various rolls in the church. Paul says,
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
There are tasks to do, and He needs each of us to step up into our place. If we don't, sometimes other people fill in and do the work, and reap the rewards. Other times, our work remains undone. This is tragic because our reticence or neglect can effect people, eternally.
Each of us has a unique calling. We have gifts and talents that we are expected to use to contribute to the building up of His church. There are also high standards of behavior that we are all called to follow. When we live righteously and in submission to God and one another (see Ephesians 5:21), the enemy is constrained in many ways. The result is the effective building of His Kingdom on earth.
There are tasks to do, and He needs each of us to step up into our place.
This happens. This is why we are told in the Ephesians 4 passage above that we all have callings, and we need to step up and take them. Paul was in prison for preaching the Gospel when he wrote to the Ephesians. Ephesians 4:1-3 says,
“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. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Our lives should reflect our devotion to Christ and His ways. Our lives should also live up to the standard, and accommodate the lifestyle of, the specific gifts and talents that we are given to use to build up His body.
To be considered important and useful in the Kingdom, we must warrant respect by authentically Christ-like behavior.
In the Greek, the word that Paul uses for the words to live a life in these verses is peripateó (per-ee-pat-eh’-o). It means walk or conduct (your) life, i.e. in a complete circuit (going “full circle”). Hence, Paul is saying that this is a lifestyle that should be the way we walk or conduct all that we do. Our conduct should elicit respect from others. To be considered of Kingdom importance and usefulness, Paul instructs us to do and be the following;
1. Be humble. Titus 1:7 says that church leadership shouldn’t be overbearing. Other translations say self-willed, headstrong and self-pleasing. Our goal is the opposite; Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
2. Be gentle. Titus 3:2 says, “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Proverbs 15:1 talks about gentle communication; “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Interpersonal gentleness creates a peaceful atmosphere.
3. Be patient. Proverbs 16:32 speaks of the value of patience in all situations; “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Waiting for God’s timing takes faith, but bears much fruit.
Romans 5:15 is a prayer by Paul to the Romans; “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” We’re told to have patience, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we need it!
4. Bear with one another in love. Romans 12:16 tells us to “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” All of the fruit of the Spirit are necessary to bear with one another in love; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
We’re told to have patience, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we need it!
I Peter 1:10-11 encourages us to, “make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to keep our calling upmost in our mind as we relate to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Faithful stewardship of our calling brings the wonderful reward of a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It's important to God!
If we are all humble, gentle and patient, and bear with one another and listen to one another, not insisting on our own opinions and ways, peace will abound. Unity will shine. We will all be working together for the building up of one another, and the establishing of His Kingdom.
Make no mistake that arrogance, harshness, impatience with one another, and intolerance, all hurt God’s people and His work. They tear people down so that they are hindered in rising to their own callings. These behaviors work against the Holy Spirit's work. They are unloving and self-serving.
To be worthy, we must live within the bounds that keep unity of the Spirit though peace. It is then that each of us walks worthy of our calling. It is then that we help lift other people in their callings, so that we function as the body that Jesus intended. Unity glorifies and magnified our Lord. Take your place! He is faithful, and He is worthy!