Eph 4:1-3 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
In the close of the third chapter of Ephesians, Paul has prayed and pointed us toward God who “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph 3:20).” Now we are exhorted to live our lives in a particular fashion according to our hope in Jesus Christ. Paul explains that this admonition does not come solely from his own desire by again referring to himself as the prisoner of the Lord. A prisoner is bound to the one who holds the power of captivity over him. Pauls is testifying that, as the prisoner of our Lord, he is not bearing witness of his personal desire. Rather, he is giving instruction from the one to whom he is bound.
The instruction is that we conduct ourselves (walk) in a manner appropriate (worthy) to our desire for living a life of service (vocation). This strong desire for how we live did not come from within us. We are directly bidden (called)by the manifestation of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is not in the carnal nature of man to assume a life of service. Paul’s testimony of how he lived his early life persecuting the church, was struck down on the road to Damascus, and ultimately changed by that experience is a testimony to the very thing he is writing about.
What does walking worthy of our vocation look like? The Greek word rendered as with in verse two means “accompaniment.” Our walk is to be accompanied by modesty (lowliness) and gentleness (meekness). Being made a prisoner of Jesus Christ is not something that we should go around patting ourselves on the back for. We are His by His grace and mercy according to the will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. We did not choose Him; He made us His choice (Joh 15:16). We should not walk as though we are above sinners, because we are sinners (Rom 3:23). We do not have any good thing that has not been given us by God (1Co 4:7). To walk worthy of our vocation, we must recognize that we are not worthy in ourselves!
If we walk worthy of our vocation, we must also be accompanied by patience (longsuffering). We need patience so we can have forbearance for each other. The Greek word rendered as forbear means to “put up with.” Sometimes in life there are things we cannot change, so we just have to put up with it. This is not the spirit of the instruction here in walking worthy of our vocation. We are to put up with each other in love. This is not intended to be negative; it is the very essence of how our Lord has treated us. In His loving patience, He has put up with our sins and our shortcomings, showing us correction, mercy, and great grace. We are recipients of His love, and we should show that love to others. To walk worthy of the vocation He has called us to, we must exercise His mind that has been given to us.
We have been called to make a prompt and earnest effort (endeavoring) to guard (keep) our oneness (unity). The avenue by which we have this unity is the Spirit. It does not come from us, but if we are walking worthy of our vocation we are going to treasure that unity. We are going to look to Him for the grace to keep ourselves from being pulled into divisiveness. We will keep our focus on Him and pray for Him to guide us in our dealings with each other. Guarding our unity by the Spirit will help to keep us from allowing our carnal nature to divide us. Walking worthy of our vocation requires that we seek unity without compromising the faith once delivered to the saints.
By God’s grace, we have a uniting principle (bond). This uniting principle says we are one in Christ Jesus. He is the quietness and rest (peace) in which we are bound. Our bondage in Jesus Christ enables us to fulfill Paul’s injunction to walk worthy of our vocation. In this, we find further fellowship with our brother, Paul. If we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, then we too are the prisoner of Jesus Christ.
May it be our happy lot to find ourselves always bound to Him and to each other in the unity of the Spirit!