How To Live Your Vocation - Ephesians 4:2
In Ephesians 4:1 Paul speaks of the vocation or the calling or assignment of one's life. In verse 2 he shares characteristics with which the vocation should be expressed. The four attributes named by Paul are innner conditions that cannot be faked or manufactured. They are produced by the Holy Spirit. These four inner conditions are evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence and activity at work in a person's life and ministry.
Ephesians 4: 2 (KJV) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love
Humility serves as a base for the other three inner conditions. The other three won't and can't be in operation unless humility is there. Humility is lowliness of mind concerning ones self. It is having a proper perspective of who you are in relationship to who the Lord is. If we gain His perspective we will not think too highly of ourselves and we will not see others as being less than we are. The more we realize that the Lord is the standard the easier it is to adopt a mindset of humility. Looking toward the Lord instead of looking at other people helps to maintain a realistic view of who we really are. Humility is the appropriate mental position for every follower of Christ.
The second inner condition Paul mentions is meekness. This can be described as mildness or gentleness. Meekness does not strive or contend. Meekness does not force or thrust forth one's own ideas, desires or opinions. A meek person is calm and can be easily entreated. Meekness will listen to what other people have to say.
The third inner condition is longsuffering or patience. Longsuffering is willing and able to wait. Waiting is an agitation to the human spirit. Human nature wants to be satisfied quickly. It is a natural inclination to act quickly when faced with an uncomfortable situation. The human spirit wants to restore comfort and so will move swiftly in an effort to relieve discomfort.
Pride is also an inner condition that is contrary to the positive attributes that Paul talks about. Pride causes people to make snap judgements and respond prematurely. Fear is an ungodly spirit that pushes people into urgency. Fear wants to paralyze godly and rational thinking. Fear doesn't want people to wait for instruction or information from the Lord. Fear goads people into making rash decisions followed by reckless deeds. The demonic spirit of fright induces panic in an effort to get people to move without God.
The Holy Spirit will wait. He is willing to suffer long when presented with less than desirable circumstances. The fruit of longsuffering resists the tauntings of pride, fear and the carnal mind. Patience is willing and able to wait.
The fourth and final inner condition presented in this verse is forbearing. It is a multi-faceted word that implies strength and endurance that benefits others. The meaning of the word suggests strength against opposition. Forbearance isn't necessary unless there is something to bear or to endure or to suffer through. The previous characteristic, longsuffering, primarily blesses the one who possess it. But forbearing one another is mostly helpful to others. Forbearing one another in love is to bear with those who are oppressed. A load is easier to bear if there are others lending their support.
The manner in which we are to provide support is in love. The Greek word used here for love is agape. This is not brotherly love as one might expect. It is also not romantic love.
Agape is divine love. This is the kind of love that issues from the heart of God. Ministers are to represent God and serve the same way He would. Serving in love is not acting out of obligation. It's not just going through the motions while complaining every step of the way. The attitude of true, faithful servants represents the desires and preferences of the one who employs them. It is impossible for a fearful, prideful, self-indulgent spirit to reflect the heart of God. The human spirit can be well-intentioned but does not possess the capacity to endure to the extent that the enablement of the Holy Spirit allows.
The four inner conditions of humility, gentle strength, unusual patience and bearing with others are necessary. These four are produced by the Holy Spirit. The manner in which they are to be demonstrated is in love. These righteous characteristics should be in clear evidence in the lives and ministries of all those called into the service of the Lord.
Ephesians 4:3 next time. Thanks for visiting!