How can we best please God and obey him? Would you like to do that?
Then see what Paul next asks his readers to do in light of all the blessings and gifts they have received.
(4:1) I, Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called out,
Paul here, once again mentions that he is the prisoner of the Lord. The previous time was at the beginning of chapter three, and there he characterized his imprisonment as a situation that was for the benefit of those he was writing to, mainly Gentile believers.
This time, he mentions his circumstance as a way of emphasizing his urgent request that his readers walk worthily of their calling.
His readers have been “called out” of a world system of ego-centered thinking and attitudes. A world culture that values pride and pushiness as admirable attitudes, even virtues. Have you noticed how people, especially the young, seem to delight in walking in front of your car when you are driving in a parking lot or even on a city street?
So many blessings, so much we can do.
The calling Paul has described (chapters one through three) includes every blessing and aspect of being a child of God in vital living union with Jesus Christ God’s Son, a member of His church, His body, a royal priesthood.
Paul is saying here: “Look at me, I’m suffering on your behalf and at the same time writing about your high calling, giving you details about all that means.” He’s saying, “Look at all you have been freely given by a generous and loving God. So I ask you to work at walking worthy of it.”
(4:2) with all humility (humbleness of mind) and meekness, with patience, showing tolerance for (bearing with) one another in love,
Now Paul tells us what he means by a worthy walk, and humility is central.
This is very important. Based on all that we have been given—and it is a lot, far more than we now can fully understand–what is appropriate?
- Humility, not ego. Constantly acknowledging that every success, every measure of progress and every victory large and small can and should be traced right back to God as Source. Give Him the credit every time. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthains 3:6, NASB).
- Meekness, instead of being addicted to proving how strong we are, how pushy we can be, nor insisting on our own way or opinion. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2-3, NASB).
- Patient, not easily irritated with fellow believers or anybody for that matter.
( 4:3) being eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
And look here at what Paul emphasizes. Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
If there is one thing that tarnishes the reputation of local churches, denominations and various sectors of Christianity (in addition to sexual misconduct), it is negative criticism of other believers.
We are best examples of God’s grace when we love one another in word and deed–and when we are giving. And it is right here that we are all tempted and fail so very often. This is the focal-target of God’s enemy and ours. If we can be seduced into selfishness and into envying, mistrusting, criticizing, judging, and competing against one another, our effectiveness has been greatly weakened if not eliminated. God’s kingdom is not expressed by such negative and hostile attitudes.
Battles we can never win.
We are to insist on the basic doctrines of our faith, those plainly stated in Scripture, yes. But to divide Christendom over minor doctrines is a failing, one that rebels against Paul’s excellent request in these verses, not to mention God’s will.
One group rails against another. Not in love but in pride and fearful anger. And what is the result? Or, how is the Kingdom of God in its progressive expression on this earth advanced by such all-too-often ego-driven battles? We Christians are too often at war with each other.
I invite you and I invite me, to be on our guard against any form of hostility against fellow believers. May we make it our prime motive to walk in love toward one another and toward those not part of our particular expression of the faith.
Ever wonder about God’s will for your life? This is His will for you. And we can do it. We can walk in obedience and surrender to His will. We can do this by faith, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.