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Ephesians: Walking Worthy (4:1-6)

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walking worthy

 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV

What does it mean to walk worthy of our calling? Are we expected to be perfect? Or is this something that imperfect humans are capable of?

The Portuguese Man o’ War

One of the most fascinating creatures to me is the Portuguese Man o’ War. Many people mistakenly think of the Man o’ War as a jellyfish, but in reality, while bearing a superficial resemblance, it is something else altogether.

The Man o’ War is actually a colony of four distinct types of polyps. The float/sail is a single polyp and the original polyp of the colony.  Attached to the sail are collections of three additional polyps; one for food capture, a second for digestion, and a third for reproduction. This colony of organisms is so tightly integrated together that they are unable to survive apart from the colony. The only exception to this is the sail polyp from which all the others are formed.

Walking Worthy

So what does this have to do with walking worthy? In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul urges us to walk worthy of the calling we have received. He then proceeds to tell us to be humble, gentle, patient, put up with each other, and make every effort to live in peace. Followed by a long list of things for which there is only one: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God & Father.

Paul has been talking about what Christ has done to heal the division between Jew and Gentile; working to produce a single man; 2:11-22. He then discussed the revealed mystery of Christ, that we are to be members of one body; 3:2-6. And he is going to go on from here to challenge us to live as a single body growing and building itself up in love; 4:11-16. The common theme to all of these passages is that the body of Christ, rather than being like a herd of zebras racing across the savanna as independent creatures who travel together, should seek to mimic the Man o’ War, to be a single body.

A Worthy Body Part

If I am called to be a part of a body, then how do I walk worthy of that calling? Some will look at this expression and see in it a call to live such a good life that I become worthy of God’s calling. But given the context, I believe he means something else altogether. I walk worthy of my calling as a body part by doing my best as that part, losing myself for the good of the body.

The body parts for the Man o’ War are simple; you’re either transportation, food capture, digestion, or reproduction. There is no question about your role, and each member of the colony does its job to the fullest. The body of Christ is much more complex, with many more parts, and each part with a history of acting independently. But nonetheless, I believe the Man o’ War has a powerful lesson to teach the body of Christ in the unity we are called to achieve.

How to Walk Worthy

Walking worthy of being a body part is actually pretty hard for me, it is contrary to my nature. So how can I pull it off? By being completely humble, by being patient, by bearing with other body parts in love, by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:2-3). All of those actions are concerned with interpersonal relationships within the body; looking to put the interests of the body ahead of my own. The Man o’ War does that and prospers as a colony, resulting in the individual members also prospering. Is it not possible that if we all put the good of the body ahead of our own good that the body would prosper, and that as it did we would also?

Questions to Consider

  • Are you walking worthy of your calling? If not, what steps might you take to be worthy?
  • How has God equipped you to serve the body of Christ? All believers have been. If you do not know your place, please consider what it might be. And then be that body part.

You are welcome to respond to these questions in the comment section below. If you do, be sure to check the “Notify me” checkbox just above the Post Comment button so you can get any feedback. Note that all comments are moderated. Only respectful comments relevant to the topic will be posted.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

2 thoughts on “Ephesians: Walking Worthy (4:1-6)”

  1. Paul gives his own analogy of the body working together by comparing the body of Christ to the human body. (I think it may be in Corinthians). I think a question I would ask you to comment on is: Do you believe we have been given gifts- or does He equip some to act in ways not typical of their gifting?

    There is in our day the church teaching members to operate in the giftings- eg the prophetic. What’s you take on this?

    Reference to Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 may suggest that once gifted in an area, that remains our role. Any thoughts?
    I hope these are not side issues. How we relate to one another is integral to the functioning of the body.

    • I believe the Holy Spirit gifts us as he sees fit and for the good of the body. You might be gifted in multiple areas. Your gifts may change over time.

      I have started to talk less about “gifts” and more about “equipping”. In many people’s minds, gifts are thought of as something off of one of the lists in the Bible and is given to you by the Holy Spirit at some point in your Christian life. But I think the issue is much broader than that. I have been equipped to serve the Lord within his church. Some of that may be what you might call natural ability, and some of it might be something given to be specifically in order to fill some role in the church. But does it matter? The Holy Spirit is using and equipping each of us as he determines, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the good of the church.

      As an example, what is it that enables me to do what I do here? I do believe that God has equipped me as a teacher, gives me insight into his word, and helps me in the writing process. But the technical aspects of building and running a web site are things that I learned during my working years. So what of that would you consider a spiritual gift? I much prefer to just say that God has put me where he wants me and ensures I have what I do to do the job.


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