Title: Walking with Jesus in gentleness and humility!
Text: Eph 4:1-16
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Humility, gentleness, and patience or - bearing with one another in love - sure don’t sound like the world I live in. At least if you watch the news, spend time on your computer, or check the timeline feeds on your phone or social media account.
You members who are not online or active with facebook or twitter accounts are not immune either. You’ve either heard about it on the radio, read about it in the paper, or have firsthand experience with it while you drive, shop, or go about you daily lives.
Rude and aggressive people who also happen to be impatient are all around us. The world is full of them. Guess what … so is the church.
As the body of believers we live in the world too. At times the world breaks into our lives with rude, violent, and unkind people and attitudes that can shake the foundation of who we are, causing in us a response that is no more humble, gentle, or patient than what we’ve experienced.
It is easy to take our eyes off Jesus; and Paul here is calling the church in Ephesus to refocus. Not only to see Jesus and all he has done for them but to reflect him in words, actions, and attitudes living as his followers wherever God has placed them in home, work, or church.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. NIV 1984
From Confirmation class we learn how the Law works as curb, mirror, and guide. It stops bad behavior, reflects our sinfulness to us, and directs us in a better way to go. Feeble attempts to keep the Law miss the mark as we actually at times think we measure up. It can cause a condescending spirit in us to see ourselves as better than others – especially as brothers and sisters in Christ - as pride grows and replaces humility.
This past Sunday Alan Trammel and Jack Morris were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I remembered briefly seeing both men at my previous work as they came in to look at pianos. I didn’t wait on either of them as it was another salesman that got the opportunity. Both of them were polite and nice, though neither bought a piano from my place of business. As I remember, both bought a competitive brand and I believe it was Jack who commented to his wife, “We’ll always have a house big enough for the concert grand,” or something along those lines. It may have been a true statement, but confidently cocky is a phrase my boss use to describe successful people at times.
Moving ahead 30 + years or so, their Hall of Fame speeches showed men humble and gentile with their words and patient in their delivery looking to soak up the moment while they considered their accomplishments and the important people in their lives.
While thanking his mother Alan Trammel said,
“She would tell me, If you ever make it to the Major Leagues, I want you to be humble like my favorite player, Stan Musial.”
But Jack Morris – the harder edged, confidently cocky, we’ll always have the big house for a concert grand guy, began his speech with these words of thanks:
“I am humbled and honored to be with all of you today. Above all, I give thanks to God for His many blessings.”
And he ended with:
“God blessed me with a gift and it was meant to be shared with others. My life in baseball has been an incredible journey, and I am grateful for everything.
I want to thank you again for sharing this wonderful day with me. Praise be to God. Thank you.
Confident … yes, but not so much cocky.
Paul in his letter wants the church then and now to know that there is one church, one body of believers, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all … and you, like the church in Ephesus, have been bought with a price.
The death of Jesus is the gift and the price. Because he has risen from the dead and has ascended on high, we too who trust in him will rise and ascend. But only because he died in our place and descended, proclaiming victory over sin, death and the power of the devil can we ever understand the height that he has ascended too.
Humility is hard … success builds pride. Pride can see not the gift or the giver but only the reflection in the mirror. The mirror of the Law - shows us our sin – SOS. But it requires an act of God through his Holy Spirit to SOS – see our savior.
Hall of Fame honors, World Series wins, money, success and fame can cause a cloud of selfish pride to obscure the mirror that reflects who we truly are apart from Christ – lost and condemned creatures that we are.
But thanks be to God, he has made a way for the mirror to clearly reflect our true condition and to provide the means of comfort for a burdened soul … the word of God.
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, NIV 1984
God’s gift comes to us through humble means.
Apostles – called by God in Christ to proclaim the way the truth and the life in Jesus and to write by inspiration of the Holy Spirit all that God had given them to do.
Prophets - Those who in many and various ways God spoke through in the past pointing forward to the coming hope that is Jesus.
Evangelists – Those sent to take the good news to the far reaches of the world to bring the lost into the fold.
Pastor’s and teachers – Shepherds that care for God’s flock, called to proclaim the full council of God, feeding God’s sheep, giving his gifts and teaching his children the truth of the word and their standing as his redeemed children. I am blessed to be here and called to serve you.
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
God’s word is truth.
Paul’s desire is that the church knows the word of God …
knows the gift of faith …
knows the reliance on one Lord, one Faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all.
Only then is it possible to reflect humility, gentleness, and patient as we live as Christ’s body of believers in this broken world. No longer, children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Not being deceived by the ways of the world and the cunning of the devil or being drawn away through men who twist the word of God, deceive the flock, and build their kingdom on the backs of the faithful.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Reactions to the truth can cause differing responses. It can cause rebellion, anger, pride and arrogance by those in opposition to the word and the truth it proclaims or by the working of the Holy Spirit it can cause humility, gentleness, and patience in your life and mine as we live out or vocations as Christians.
Jack Morris sounds like a man changed by the word of God.
You too have been changed. May the joy of that change be a reflection in all you say and do waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 ESV
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit