Ephesians 4:1-16 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Manny Kim, Gracepoint Austin.

What would be commensurate with living a life that is worthy compared to the calling that you have received?

The calling is presumed by Apostle Paul to be a high calling, to preach the Gospel, to make plain the mystery that is the church.  This knowledge of the Gospel and of the church is so precious not only for eternal life but for how life is meant to be lived here to ultimately experiences the riches of His blessings.    What I have come to know is a precious treasure and in the kingdom parables it is a treasure that is worth selling everything for.  To live a life ‘worthy’, then, would mean to live in such a way that would hold this calling central, of utmost importance, where I am prioritizing and living out this calling above all other ‘lesser callings’.  This means whatever those other callings are, whether it be seeking acknowledgment from people, and building up my own life for my own gain, financially, materially, with respect to worldly status, catering to my emotions of what I feel to be comfortable or soothing, that those motivations take a smaller place in my heart.  There are a lot of other ‘callings’ or purposes for which I can expend my time, energy and resources, but to live a life worthy of the calling I have received means that I need to maximize my life to achieve this purpose of spreading the gospel and building up the church.

What are the ways that I can live my life ‘worthy of the calling I have received’?

I have to not get distracted by other things that may take me away from my primary purpose.  Being out here in Austin, and being a part of this church plant, I see how easy it is for me and others to get distracted from the calling that we have received.  I will never forget the day 2 years ago when we were sent out at the Oakland airport with much tears, well-wishes and prayers.  It is a picture I hold onto to this day.  How dishonoring it would be if I was sent here and I ended up pursuing some other calling.  We have been given the task by God and by others who through love and prayers sent us here, to help build up the church, this amazing ‘mystery’, that had been previously unknown to the generations prior to Apostle Paul, and to spread the Gospel.  It would be so tragic and inconceivable that given the high calling that we would then turn around and expend our energy to build our own lives here, to upgrade our standard of living, to make a name for ourselves through academic pursuits, to enjoy the city life and all the offerings, to take advantage of all the resources we have been given and then use it to live selfishly, indulgently, buying nice things, finding solace in different forms of entertainment, while a city and a campus stews in the juices of the terrible party culture.  It would be wrong if any of us were to have come out here with one primary calling only to then pursue our own agenda.  I have to be careful then, that me, nor the team doesn’t get distracted from our primary goal.  Intellectually we all understand why we are here.  I understand that I need to live my life worthy of the calling I have received, but to live that out is another story.  With the heat here, the myriad of options at my disposal, the temptations of the culture, it only takes small decisions and steps, and subtly, the focus of my life changes.  I need to be wary, then, of things like small purchases for myself, of taking in extra sleep, of finding solace in material goods or anything that is not ultimately useful for spreading the gospel or building up the church because once that small decision is made and I justify it somehow by saying it was ‘necessary’ for me, and for the sake of the Gospel, I am going down a slippery slope and will end up dishonoring His name.  So I need to remain vigilant, in the practical areas of money, time, personal resources, and be careful that I am using it to invest in the church and the spreading of the Gospel.

To live a life worthy in building up the church, it is again so inspiring at the surface, but in the practical day to day lives, difficult. Apostle Paul says, ‘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.”  This means in our context, where we see each other practically every day, being patient when people’s weaknesses and character flaws come out.  I am sometimes surprised that people you thought you knew, you realize was a wrong presumption because lot more comes out in a small community.  Even small things like anywhere between the way people laugh funny, or tell bad jokes, to more weightier characteristics such as how a person works, or uses their money, all comes into sharper focus and becomes the source of much annoyance.  So I can understand Apostle Paul when he says, ‘be completely humble and gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love’.  As we try and build up the church, it starts with making the effort with one another and that is not easy, especially when you are irritable in this 100 degree heat here in Texas and you have to do set up.   Making effort to keep the unity is a challenge, but I need to keep the goal of what we are to do in mind.  The goal is build an Acts 2 community and knowing how mightily God used that church to be a blessing for others is something I need to keep in mind.  We have a long way to go, but to know the vision of what we can be will help me to bear with one another, knowing that the church will be the primary vehicle through which salvation is ushered into people’s lives.  I have been called out here to do what we as a church have agreed we should do, to plant a God-honoring church, and out of respect for the church, for God, I need to make choices that is worthy of that calling.

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Submitted by Conrad C., Gracepoint Berkeley.

What did Paul identify himself as? He called himself a prisoner of the Lord.  Meaning, he was unequivocally sure that he was in prison because of the Lord.  It was not for crime, but for belief and conviction that led him to be in that prison cell.

What did Paul urge the church of Ephesus to live up to? He urged them to live a life worthy of their calling.

What does it mean to live a worthy life? There is an idea of worthiness when it comes to living life.  It is not merely a relative standard, but one set by the calling you have received.  For the previous chapter, Paul’s calling was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and to that end he endured much suffering, even prison.  Paul’s current situation provides proper context to his urging to live up to the calling you have received.

What do I need measure my life by? Apostle Paul is not talking about worthiness in some general sense, like living a generally good life.  Often, the temptation for me is relative and measure of well-lived life in very humanistic terms.  It’s so easy to set relative terms that fit my own liking and comforts.  Unfortunately, the force of  Apostle Paul’s exhortation is in the context of the demands of the gospel, and for him, it was prison.  That really provides the proper lens from which I need to measure my life.  He speaks from the context of real suffering, real cost to his life in living up to his calling.  I imagine if Apostle Paul said what he said from a privileged seat of comfort, his urging would be sapped of any power or meaning.  To that extent, I need to pay attention to the fact that “living a worthy life” will involve suffering and personal cost.  So much of the world excludes suffering from the so-called good life, and there is much of that that has come to influence me.

Following his exhortation, Apostle Paul provides me some of the measures of life: humility, gentleness, bearing with one another in love, unity in the Spirit, and unity with the body of Christ.  He concisely boils down how I ought to examine my interior and exterior life.  Based on this past Sunday’s message, I’m drawn to think about the two interior aspects that Apostle Paul highlights: humility and gentleness.  The opposite of humility is of course pride and this Sunday, I think I needed to once again re-calibrate my view of myself.  Pride is a gradual thing, and I realized my view of myself had shifted towards a positive light and I thought of myself more highly than I ought have.  Just recent events in my life, I realize how through proud blind I am to my own motives in terms of what I say or do.  A side-comment to my wife for example can be laced with pride and abrasiveness, yet I was really blind to it.  As I carefully reflect on my conduct, my issues of pride and abrasiveness emerge throughout in my relationships. I have a long way to go in terms of my own character and I should not think with complacency that I’m okay here.  I need a fundamental shift in my attitude towards myself.

What and who are we called to united under? We are called to be united under one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.  There is a single authority over all, which can be summed up as the gospel.

What are the different roles that Apostle Paul mentions? He said God gave “gifts to men”, and to each, bestowed grace.  It materializes in different roles we play, for he gave some to be apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastor and teachers.  Though joined together under the unity of the gospel, we are nevertheless playing different roles to prepare God’s people for work of service.

What are the roles all focused to do? All the roles are focused towards building up the body.  They’re not for individual glory or individual ascension.  Their end is to mature the body.

How do we to avoid being like infants tossed about by every wind of teaching? Apostle Paul says we are no longer infants when we become mature, through the preparation and efforts of spiritual authorities (apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, teachers).  I think often times we discount how much spiritual authority is necessary to shape us to become more mature.  We misinterpret intentions of leaders.  We forget that it is their end to mature us so that we won’t be blown here and there by every wind of teaching and deceit.  It happens through speaking the truth in love, and truth-telling, though not comfortable is what grows us up to be united and strong.  Apostle Paul paints this picture showing how our best chance of standing up to the temptations and cultural waves around us is to be open to shaping from those who are more mature in the faith and to be open to truth spoken to us.  Perhaps he who balks at authority and chooses to do it solo is in fact the flimsy one who is most vulnerable; certainly, not the idea of individual fortitude that the world elevates.

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