WALK WORTHY OF THE VOCATION
Ephesians 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; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In chapter three, Paul referred to himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and here in the lesson text as a prisoner of the Lord. The verdict delivered to Paul in his trial at Jerusalem resulted in him being delivered ...into the hands of the Romans (Acts 28:17), transported to Rome, and there confined, awaiting trail in the Roman courts. These civil bonds were not shameful to Paul, because the reason that brought about his imprisonment, by the Roman government, was a worthy cause. As a prisoner of the Lord, Paul was "bound" to proclaim Jesus as the Savior, the Son of God. This is what Paul was called to do as he traveled the road to Damascus. There he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:1). This was to be Paul's responsibility for the remainder of his life on earth - this was the vocation to which he was called. He, indeed, walked worthy of this vocation, preaching God's word wherever providential circumstances led him. His message was worthy because it was the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. This was the gospel of Christ, for which I am not ashamed (See Rom. 1:16). This was Paul's vocation.
A vocation is more than a job. It is more than a trade, occupation, or profession. Webster defines it as "a call, summons, or impulsion to perform a certain function or enter a certain career, especially a religious one." This seems to be a good explanation of Paul's vocation. Throughout his letter to the Ephesians, Paul indicated that when they obeyed God's gospel call, they became Christians, and heirs of the wonderful gifts and blessings God offers His children through Christ. Along with these blessings, the lesson text tells us that they also assumed a new responsibility. Just as Paul was called to a new vocation, so were the saints at Ephesus, and so are all Christians today. Not only are all members of the body of Christ required to assume a new vocation, but also they are to walk worthy of the vocation.
How is one to do this - to walk worthy of the vocation? Paul tells us in the next two verses of the lesson text. First, he tells us that we are to walk worthy ...with all lowliness and meekness. Strong's Dictionary tells us the word translated "lowliness" carries the meaning of "humbleness of mind, humility." Of this Christian characteristic Peter tells us we are all to be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Paul tells us that, with lowliness of mind, Christians will esteem all others better than themselves (Phil. 2:3). With the characteristic of meekness, one will not be easily provoked or angered. Jesus demonstrated these two traits in his life on earth. He said this of himself, take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29). Christians are to walk, as did our Savior - with all lowliness and meekness.
Paul also says to walk worthy ...with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. The biggest hurdle to overcome in exercising this Christian principle in life, is to know that the nature, disposition, temperament, and manner of life demonstrated by others will probably be different from that of our own. Others also have imperfections just as we all do. Realizing these principles, the Christian will not be immediately revengeful to the actions of others, but will patiently seek their resolution in a tactful, well thought-out reconciliation. Unkind acts by one, that results in revenge by another, result in hate. When love exists, forbearance occurs, and through self-restraint and self-control, differences can be resolved peacefully.
Lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and love for one another are all necessary characteristics needed by Christians, in order to have unity within families, within society, within our nation, and between all nations of the world, and they are especially needed within the body of Christ. Jesus, Himself, tells us the reason unity is necessary within the church of Christ:That they may by one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (John 17:21).
As a righteous example to the world around us, we are commanded to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, that all people may believe in, and accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Savior of the world!