Walk worthy of your calling

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Walking worthy of your calling

 

Text: Ephesians 4:1-3

Preached in Quabbin valley on 2/22/09

Introduction:

            There is a song called “put one foot in front of the other” from the cartoon “Santa Claus is coming to town”. The song says:

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If you want to change your direction
If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule be the exception
A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
You mean that it's just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn

(repeat chorus twice)

            The idea is that action needs to take place, one foot in front of the other is walking, and is taking action. Christianity is not a self centered way of life that gives us the right to just exist. We are called to action.

 

1)    Walk in a worthy manner

a.    Paul in Ephesians 4:1 says: “I … Urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the of the calling to which you have been called”. Walking is deliberate action, we are actively doing something when we are walking we are moving forward. To walk in a manner worthy of our calling is to act a certain way by choice. It’s to be active not passive, Paul didn’t say lay around in a manner that is worthy of your calling.

Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to walk in a way that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ, that is our calling.

John says something very similar in 1 John 1:7 he says:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1Jo 1:7 ESV)

Paul tells us how to walk in a worthy manner. When our lives are lived with a constant eye to pleasing the Lord we will be walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

b.    Paul says we are to walk with all humility and gentleness. Humility means not being proud or arrogant, haughty or conceited.

                                                  i.    First Sermon: There was a  young bible school student who was excited about preaching his first sermon in his home church. After three years in seminary, he felt adequately prepared, and when he was introduced to the congregation, he walked boldly to the pulpit, his head high, radiating self-confidence. But he stumbled reading the Scriptures and then lost his train of thought halfway through the message. He began to panic, so he did the safest thing: He quickly ended the message, prayed, and walked dejectedly from the pulpit, his head down, his arrogance gone. Later, one of the godly elders whispered to the embarrassed young man, “If you had gone up to the pulpit the way you came down, you might have come down the way you went up.” Prokope, Vol. No. 3, July-September, 1997[1]

c.    1 Peter 5:5 …. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

d.    Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Or more important than yourselves. This is what Jesus talked about when he said:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Counting others more important than yourselves that’s being humble and that’s something I would guess that of us in here would be squirming over and thinking that’s crazy.

e.    Jesus washes the disciple’s feet when no one else would humble themselves to do it and he says do the same to each other.

f.     When we are walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel there is no room for selfishness or arrogance we are to walk with all humility and gentleness, being humble and being kind to one another.

g.    Paul goes on to say that we are to walk in a worthy manner with patience bearing with one another in love.

                                                  i.    Someone said: Patience is letting your motor idle when you feel like stripping the gears.948[2]

                                                ii.    A teacher: A teacher had just finished putting the last pair of galoshes on her first-graders—thirty-two pairs in all. The last little girl said, “You know what, teacher? These aren’t my galoshes.” The teacher removed them from the girl’s feet. Then the little girl continued, “They are my sister’s, and she let me wear them.” The teacher quietly put them back on her student. Now that’s patience!952[3]

h.    It’s not only patience it’s patience bearing with one another, it’s struggling with, it’s being like God by being long suffering.

i.      Some people can just rub us the wrong way can’t they, and never do anything sinful. It’s not that they are sinning it’s just the way they walk or talk or whatever. We are to bear with one another, put up with one another but not grudgingly. We are to do this in love.

It says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that love bears all things and that love is eternal. We are told in the word of God that one of God’s character qualities or attributes is love, God is love. And when we love we are reflecting God being like Christ.

What does it look like to love someone, to bear with someone in love, does that mean that we are to put up with sin? Does it mean we have to feel happy and tingly inside no matter what people are doing?

                                                  i.    This world with all it’s tv shows and movies and books as well as many of the people we see and talk with tell us that love is an emotion, one of fluffy feelings and tingly toes and so we hear stupid comments like “I’m not in love with my husband or wife any more” and of course that gives that person, they think, the right to leave that marriage. And there are other nonsense statements surrounding this word love.

You know sometimes we do get warm feelings when we are acting in a loving manner often it does feel good to show love in different ways but it is wrong to think or expect that we will always have good feelings when we are acting in love.

Doing something kind is that love? It is if it’s done with the right heart. What about rebuking someone who is in sin is that loving? It is if the heart is right.

                                                ii.    1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." (1Co 5:1 ESV)

j.      Love always does what is best for the person being loved. A parent disciplines their child out of love and God disciplines those he loves. We are to hold each other accountable. Love one another doesn’t only mean do kind things or have warm feelings it means we will do whatever is best for that person, rebuke, correcting, casting a person out of the church if they continue in open sin and of course it means putting up with others who might rub us the wrong way.

 

2)    Maintain the unity

a.    Finally we are told to “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. We are to maintain the fellowship we have in the Spirit. As Paul will go on to say in this chapter “there is one Spirit” he is talking about the Holy Spirit. That one spirit dwells in each Christian and we are to remember and keep that unity and we do that in the bond of peace. Not by force or fighting but by peace. Remember that Jesus is our peace.

b.    Unity is so important and unity has to do with sticking together. We are one in Christ, one body, that’s unity; there is one God, one Lord, one faith, which is all talking about unity. Unity is very important.

 

a.    Wolf Oxen: The May 1987 edition of National Geographic included a feature about the arctic wolf. Author L. David Mech described how a seven-member pack had targeted several musk-oxen calves who were guarded by eleven adults. As the wolves approached their quarry, the musk-oxen bunched in an impenetrable semicircle, their deadly rear hooves facing out, and the calves remained safe during a long standoff with the enemy. But then a single ox broke rank, and the herd scattered into nervous little groups. A fight ensued, and the adults finally fled in panic, leaving the calves to the mercy of the predators. Not a single calf survived. [4]

c.    If in the body of Christ there is disunity, no unity it won’t be long before Satan divides us and conquers us. We are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. What unifies us? We read it and I just talked about it.

 

Conclusion:

            Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:1 ESV)

 

We are going to enjoy the Lord’s Supper which reminds us of the unity and love we have in Christ. This is a time for reflection and confession to the Lord and if you or I have some unresolved issue with another we are reminded to resolve it quickly and if possible, quietly and walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel call of Christ.


----

[1]Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

[2]Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching. Includes indexes. (258). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3]Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching. Includes indexes. (259). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4]Larson, C. B. (2002). 750 engaging illustrations for preachers, teachers & writers. First work originally published: Illustrations for preaching and teaching. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, 1993. 2nd work originally published: Contemporary illustrations for preachers, teachers, and writers. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1996. 3rd work originally published: Choice contemporary stories and illustrations. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1998. (596). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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