May 9, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 4:1 (NRSV)
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. . .
Ephesians 4:1 urges us to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called.” Our calling, according to Ephesians, emerges from the grand story of what God has done and is doing in Christ. God calls us both to embrace and to share in his saving, healing, renewing, life-giving work. When we say “Yes” to God’s invitation to faith, we are also saying “Yes” to God’s summons to live our lives in light of all that he has done and will do through Christ.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
In the first verse of Ephesians 4, we find an unusual and remarkable use of the language of calling: “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). The Apostle Paul, who was imprisoned because of his missionary work when writing to the Ephesians, doubles up on the use of calling language in this verse. The letter’s recipients are to “lead a life [literally, “walk”] worthy of the calling to which [they] have been called.”
When reading this, we want to ask an obvious question: “So, what is the calling to which we have been called?” The answer to this question isn’t quite as obvious as the question itself, however. Paul spoke in Ephesians 1:18 of “the hope to which [God] has called you.” I talked about this in last Thursday’s devotion. Our hope, according to Ephesians, certainly includes our personal salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). But it’s much more than this. Because of what God has done in Christ, we have confident hope that, one day, God will “gather up all things in [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:10). God will mend this broken world, unifying that which has been divided by sin.
We who are called to this hope should not just sit around waiting for God to fix everything, however. We are meant to be participants in God’s work of salvation and restoration. When we accept God’s grace through faith, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10). We aren’t just observers of God’s work in the world, but partners in that work. The phrase in Ephesians 2:10 translated here as “good works . . . to be our way of life” reads more literally “good works . . . that we should walk in them.” Notice how similar this is to the language of 4:1: “lead a life [“walk” in Greek] worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” We walk worthy of our calling by walking in the good works God has prepared for us.
Our calling emerges from the grand story of what God has done and is doing in Christ, the story that fills Ephesians 1-3. This calling is shared by all who belong to Christ by grace through faith. It’s not our particular calling to a particular work or life situation. Rather, it’s the calling to embrace and to share in God’s saving, healing, renewing, life-giving work. When we say “Yes” to God’s invitation to faith, we are also saying “Yes” to God’s summons to live our lives in light of all that he has done and will do through Christ.
Do you think of yourself as a partner in God’s work in the world? If so, why? If not, why not?
How do you understand the calling you share with other Christians?
How might you “walk worthy” of your calling today at work? At home? In your community?
Prayerfully consider how you might walk worthy of your calling today. Ask the Lord to guide you to one of the good works he has prepared for you. Then, do whatever God places on your heart.
Gracious God, thank you for your grand plan of salvation and renewal. Thank you for what you have done, are doing, and will do in Christ. Thank you that I am a beneficiary of this work. And thank you for calling me to be a partner in this work . . . a junior partner, for sure, but still a partner.
Help me, Lord, to walk worthy of my calling today. As I go about the work of this day, may I remember the calling you have given to me. Help me, I pray, to live my calling today. As I do, may you be glorified. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Grand Plan: A Practical Guide (Ephesians 4:1–6:24)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.