1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forbearance. These are the marks of a follower of Christ.
At least, they should be. But are they? As I read these verses and prayerfully consider my own life, are these characteristics people might say I exude? I confess, I daily see myself falling short of the mark in at least one of these areas. I become impatient with my children. I allow pride to insert itself into a discussion. I struggle to let joy lead when circumstances grow difficult.
Can you relate?
I love the Scriptures, because they are living, active, and timeless. The same exhortations that Paul gave to the Ephesians so long ago are still ones we need today in our homes, our churches and our workplaces. We all need to be reminded of our call and our calling, so we don’t lose our way in a dark and distracting world.
So, what is our call and our calling?
In an earlier chapter, Paul reminded the Ephesians of their adoption into the family of God (1:5-6). This was a work both initiated and carried out by God, and it was grace to the Gentiles – which we also are. This is our call, our identity. Now, as adopted sons and daughters of God, we have a calling, a purpose on this earth. We are to live our lives in service to the glory of God. In verse 2, Paul gives four specific ways this should show itself evident in every believer:
Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forbearance.
But notice, these are not merely characteristics to be collected as badges of personal honor. These things are necessary for the whole body of Christ to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v.3). If one part of the body is unhealthy or lacking, it impacts the whole. So it is within the church, as Paul aptly described in Ephesians 1:22-23 – the church is “the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
As Paul exhorted the Ephesians, so we must exhort one another to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (v.1). May everything we do and say on this earth be done to magnify one Lord, one faith, one baptism – one God and Father of all.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What does the word “calling” mean to you? In your own life, has that definition or connotation been formed more by circumstances or by Scripture?
- Do you feel your church exemplifies the unity of the Spirit Paul refers to? Why or why not? Prayerfully consider how you can contribute to the health of the body of Christ within your own church context.
- Looking at the characteristics given in verses 2 and 3, which do you feel you struggle with most? Is there one area in which you see personal growth more than in another?
Write each of the following words on a sheet of paper (one word per sheet) and set out the sheets so the family can see them.
As you read Ephesians 4:1-6 aloud, stop and look at each one of these words. As a family, work to create an easily understandable definition for each word (you might want to consult a dictionary to get you started). After doing that, come up with examples of each of these character qualities. It will be especially encouraging to your child if you are able to come up with an example of him or her showing one or more of these character qualities.
Discuss with your child that these are wonderful traits to have, but we can’t just try harder to get them. We become more humble, gentle, patient, and forbearing when we grow in our faith. These character traits are evidence that the Holy Spirit lives in us and is changing us!
Pray for Keegan and Carla, global workers from our church family living in Southeast Asia. Pray for wisdom, creativity, and encouragement as they look for gospel opportunities.