Devotional # 103. 9/22/14. Ephesians 4:1-6.
Intro. When we first started Ephesians (Devotional 96) I said that the book was naturally divided in the middle. We are now at the point where we start the second half, with chapter 4. Stott said, chapters 1-3 are “theological, emphasizing New Testament doctrine” and chapter 4-6 are “practical and focus on Christian behavior” (Source 1, p. 1801). Basically if we read chapters 4-6 without reading chapters 1-3 then we can become legalistic. Chapters 4-6 will teach us how to walk as Christians.
vv. 1-3. Paul’s use of “therefore” always reminds us to refer back to what we’ve read prior: the theme of Jesus’ love for us and our response of love for our family of other Christians. With that in mind, Paul says he is “a prisoner of the Lord.” As we talked about in Ephesians 3:1 (Devotional 100) Paul knows what it literally means to be a prisoner but he chooses to be a bondservant of Christ due to his gratitude for what Christ has done.
That said, Paul “beseeches” the Ephesians (and us today!) to “walk worthy of the calling” that God called us with. First, we need to know what “beseech” means. It means to “forcefully demand” or (in nicer terms) “strongly encourage”. So what does he strongly encourage us to do? In our Christian walk to be worthy of the things that Jesus did for us. See how right away if we hadn’t understood chapters 1-3 we could turn this into some sort of work that we could do on our own? But instead we understand that it is Jesus who gives us the power to walk “worthily” of the great gifts we have been given.
How do we “walk worthy”? Paul gives us a list of things the Holy Spirit will help us with: being “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” (NIV). I like how that the NKJV has “humble” as “lowliness.” That gives the idea that the Lord Jesus is higher and we’re lower. I have been reading the daily devotional from the book My Utmost for His Highest. We’ll actually read from this devotional shortly but specifically for here let’s think of the “height” of God. As evidenced by the title, God’s Highest, His “preeminence”, His honor, His glory being “lifted up”, is most important. I encourage you to check it out (the devotional is available for free on the free app “YouVersion”). As we’ll see in verse 5, God is “above all, and through all, and in you all.” Back to verses 2-3: the focus on love that we’ve been talking about makes “bearing with one another in love” stand out. Also the unity of believers is emphasized with “the unity of the Spirit.” But we should note that Paul puts the responsibility on us. He exhorts us to “make every effort.” This means we don’t say, “I’ll forgive them once they apologize” or “I’m really busy and it would take extra time from my day to make peace with that person.” We make every reasonable effort to be a “peacemaker” since we’re called “sons [and daughters] of God” (Matthew 5:9).
vv. 4-6. Paul tells us that “there is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…” John Stott gives us some great thoughts on this. Notice “Paul’s repetition of the word ‘one’; in fact, it occurs seven times. A more careful reading discloses that three of these seven unities allude to the three Persons of the Trinity (one Spirit, verse 4; one Lord, verse 5, i.e. the Lord Jesus; and one God and Father of us all, verse 6), while the remaining four allude to our Christian experience in relation to the three Persons of the Trinity. This truth can be expressed in three simple affirmations. First, there is one body because there is only one Spirit (verse 4). …secondly, there is one hope belonging to our Christian calling (verse 4), one faith and one baptism (verse 5) because there is only one Lord. …thirdly, there is one Christian family, embracing us all (verse 6) because there is one God and Father…” (Source 3, p. 150).
The idea of God calling us is awesome! Have you ever thought about it for 5 minutes? The Creator of worlds, being outside of time and space, who calls Himself “I AM that I AM” made you and calls to you. The book My Utmost for His Highest was written in 1924 by Oswald Chambers but is still so applicable to today:
“When we talk about the call of God, we often forget the most important thing, namely, the nature of Him who calls. There are many things calling each of us today. Some of these calls will be answered, and others will not even be heard. The call is the expression of the nature of the One who calls, and we can only recognize the call if that same nature is in us. The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not ours. God providentially weaves the threads of His call through our lives, and only we can distinguish them. It is the threading of God’s voice directly to us over a certain concern, and it is useless to seek another person’s opinion of it. Our dealings over the call of God should be kept exclusively between ourselves and Him.
The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God. But when God brings me into the right relationship with Himself, I will be in the same condition Isaiah was. Isaiah was so attuned to God, because of the great crisis he had just endured, that the call of God penetrated his soul. The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed.
‘Let me hear Your voice”—that is my prayer. I am willing beyond all my expression to hear You, to perceive You, to be thrilled with Your presence’” (Source 2).
Conclusion. Paul has given us a lot to meditate on. The running themes of the gratitude we owe Jesus for saving us and the unity of believers along with the responsibility of “walking worthy” is a serious duty for the believer. But we have our one True God, made of three True Persons, who will guide us and protect us. If we reverence God as “Highest” then this is not an impossible task. We have hope in our Father who has called us since we are His children.
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1997.
Source 2: Oswald Chambers, ‘My Utmost for His Highest Devotional”, Day 2, YouVersion Bible app.
Source 3: John R.W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, 1979.