“Therefore.” A simple, common word. In Greek it’s oun. English definition: “as a result; because of that; for that reason.” A pivotal word in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And to us.
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . . ” (4:1). For that reason . . . I urge you to a life worthy of your calling.
Three quick questions. (1) What’s our calling? (2) What’s a life worthy of our calling? (3) For what reasons should we live a worthy life?
The Greek for calling is kaleo. It’s used of God’s invitation or summons to salvation or discipleship. We didn’t volunteer. God invited us to his salvation; Christ summoned us to follow him. That’s our calling.
The Greek for “worthy” is axeeos. It pertains to “having a relatively high degree of comparable merit or worth”. A child of the King doesn’t hang out on the city’s street corners with druggies. He learns to respect others. He studies. He bows to authority. He lives a lifestyle appropriate for the King’s child. He doesn’t live this way to become the King’s child. Because he is the King’s child, he lives this way.
The third question requires a lengthier answer. For what reasons should we live a worthy life?
- Because God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3).
- Because God chose us in Christ before creation that we should be holy and blameless before him (1:4).
- Because God predestined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of his will to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the beloved (1:5,6).
- Because God redeemed us through Christ’s blood and forgave our trespasses according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us (1:7,8).
- Because God made the mystery of his will known to us according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment– to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, that is Christ (1:9,10).
- Because in Christ we have obtained an inheritance (1:11).
- Because in Christ we were marked with a seal–the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance, toward our redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory (1:13-15).
- Because we may know the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance among us, and the immeasurable greatness of his power for us (1:18-20).
- Because, though we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once lived, following this world’s ways and the ruler of the power of the air, and though we were once by nature children of wrath, God (who is rich in mercy) out of his great love for us made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:1-6).
- Because God intends in the coming ages to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (2:7).
- Because we are saved by grace through faith–and this is not from us; it’s God’s gift (2:8,9).
- Because we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do (2:10).
- Because once we were without Christ and without God having no hope in this world; but now in Christ Jesus we have been brought near through his blood (2:12,13).
- Because Christ is our peace, making us part of one newly-created humanity, reconciled to God in one body through the cross, giving us access to the Father in one Spirit (2:15-18).
- Because we are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself the chief cornerstone (2:19,20).
- Because in Christ we are being built together with all other believers into a dwelling which God lives by his Spirit (2:21,22).
- Because out of God’s glorious riches he may strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may be more and more at home in our hearts through faith (3:16,17a).
- Because, being rooted and established in love, we may have power, together with all God’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love–and know this love that surpasses knowledge–that together with God’s people we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (3:17b-19).
- Because our God is able to do far beyond all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (3:20).
- Because we exist to give God glory (3:21).
How can we live worthy of that? Paul tells us in chapters 4-6. But look what he surprisingly starts with . . .
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1-3).
In the church, there’s no place for lording it over others. No place for arrogance or “blowing your top” at a brother who irritates you. No place for harsh words. No place for division.
Instead humility . . . gentleness . . . patience . . . bearing with one another in love . . . making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. These are the first steps toward living a life worthy of our calling.