Who do You want ME to be? A question we should all ask God everyday…
“ 1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
— Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)
Paul wrote these words from prison, so if anyone knew what being a prisoner was all about, Paul would definitely be the guy. “As a prisoner for the Lord…” began Paul…what did he mean? What does it mean to be a prisoner for the Lord? What is Paul getting at when he begins this paragraph?
Lets look at it for a minute…Paul, a man who knew what it was to persecute the church, who had put people in prison for claiming the name of Christ; was now, himself, suffering the same fate as many he had put away…imprisoned for the carrying the name of Christ. But as he accepted this, he wrote to the church at Ephesus, “then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” What is that call?
Paul had written before that the call on a Christian’s life was one of mimicking the life of Christ (Romans 8:28-30).
“28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
— Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)
By looking back to Psalm 139 where we see David claim to be fearfully and wonderfully made, and also note, ”You knit me together in my mother’s womb…”; we realize that God knew each one of us before the world knew us, therefore we are all part of the group of the known, we are ALL predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and therefore called. What is the likeness of Christ?
“5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
— Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)
Jesus took the role of a servant…the same role we are called to, service.
Paul was explaining that we should all live a life worthy of the call, a life that would cause others to take notice of a difference…a life that is similar to that of Christ Jesus himself. Paul then goes on to tell four ways that life can be achieved: Humility, Gentleness, Patience and Bearing one another’s burdens.
Paul states that we should be humble, not proud…the life of a servant is one of humility. To serve others, they must come first in our life…not second to us. If we consider ourselves to be better than another, we will never serve them, because we don’t feel they are worthy of that…but Christ humbled himself to wash the apostles feet…shouldn’t we practice that same humility when it comes to others? Shouldn’t we lower ourselves to the level where we can be most effective in touching someone’s life? Humility is putting yourself last.
Along with this humility we are to have is Gentleness. What Paul is stating is that we much approach each other with a gentle spirit…do not look for a fight, look to stop the war; don’t go into a conversation expecting confrontation…go in expecting reconciliation, expecting peace. Be kind, practicing the golden rule – do unto others. Serve others, give without expecting in return, be kind, be gentle, be Jesus to the world.
Third, we are to be patient…which is one of the hardest things for a person to do, especially when they feel they have been wronged. People have trouble with patience, because being patient means looking past faults…looking past disagreements…looking for the good in another, so that we don’t react in a way that is detrimental to our relationship with them…in a way that can ruin even the best of friendships.
And Last…bearing one another’s burdens. When we band together as a group of Christians, no one can pull us down…no one can take the joy that comes in seeing someone we love come through a tough time in their life, only to enjoy the fruits of their sufferings. Paul told the Ephesian Church that they needed to bear with each other, because no one can do it alone.
Paul then states that all four of these must be unified within the Christian so that the full work of the church can be completed. You must find a way to take these four principles and apply them as a unified group to your life…it’s the only way a prisoner for the Lord can survive.
Not only do we need to unify these principles, but we also need to unify as a body of Christ…we are all called to the same purpose…we are all called to be Christ to the world. Too many times these days the Church is only out for what they can do for themselves…the members are loyal, but their view of the church is the four walls they enter every Sunday morning…for us as Christians to change the world…we have to unify peacefully and work toward the same cause.
What are you doing today? Are you loyal to the call on your life? Are you willing to unify with the church as a whole in bringing the name of Christ to the world? Or are you content sitting back and missing the blessings that will come your way when you choose to live in the way Paul did…in unity with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul explains it in further detail over the next few verses…
“4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
— Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)
Seven “one’s” to show us that it is all about becoming ONE in unity. Become one with the Church today, become unified for the cause of Christ…become one prisoner who is devoted to joining with other prisoners to serve the ONE who thought we were worthy enough to die for us…ask God who He wants you to be.