Ephesians 4

 Ephesians 4 begins with Paul telling us how to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”.  Do you ever think about that?  What it means to be worthy of being a Christ Follower?  Sometimes I think we forget that it is a privilege, not a right, to follow Jesus.  It is a gift God has given us through grace – not something we have earned or deserve.  Do you consider it that way?  Paul gives some characteristics about what it means to be worthy of that call:

–       “Humility

–       Gentleness

–       Patience

–       Bearing with one another in love

–       Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit

Does that sound like you, or your church body?  Unfortunately I’m afraid it doesn’t really sound all that much like a lot of Christ Followers I know, including me some days. 

Paul goes on to camp on the unity topic.  “There is one body and one Spirit……..one Lord, one faith, one baptism…..one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”.  Did he say it clearly enough.  There is NO division in Christ or His church body.  None, nada, just unity.  So how are we supposed to actually get along?  “Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift”.  Once again it is not about us.  God gives us grace – each of us have a measure of it – and that is how we can live in unity. 

Paul goes on to tell us what the job of church leadership is – primarily that of pastors and teachers.  Pay attention here – we get this wrong so often: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry…..for building up the body of Christ…..until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,,,,,,to mature manhood,,,,,,to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,,,,,,so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”.  Pastors are not to DO the work of the ministry – they are to train you and me to do it.  We think that since they are paid employees it is their job.  Not so according to scripture.  They are to teach you and me to do it and to grow up and become full of Jesus.  They are the equippers, not the doers.  They are the ones who are to prepare us to minister and do the ministry.  So many of us get this wrong.  We want to  be spectators and watch our ministers do the work.  That is not God’s plan.

What God does want to do is grow us up.  Paul gives us the secret to that in this chapter.  Here is the formula we are to follow: “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.  We have to put off our old self and put on the new.  It means we stop doing the sinful things in our life and replace them with godly habits and actions.  You can’t just stop doing something without replacing it with something else.  This means we must be intentional – we must really focus on replacing the bad stuff in our life with godly stuff.  It has to happen if we are to really become what God desires.  He calls out falsehood, lying, stealing, corrupt talking, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander.  We need to stop those things and replace them with kindness, tender hearts, forgiveness and godly behaviors.  That is what God has called us to as Christ Followers.  That is how we achieve worthiness to be His.  It is intentional and hard work.  But God has called us to that life!

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