Scripture: But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:7 ESV
Observation: Having addressed the mystery of our Gospel and the extent of the Father and Son’s love for us in chapter 4, Paul now stresses the importance of maintaining unity in diversity as a means of bearing witness that we are Christ’s disciples. In this instance, it is not a matter of ethnicity or gender but pertains to our calling. Moreover, our calling is a gift from Christ (verse 7 above) intended to build up the body of Christ in the unity of faith and to mature us spiritually and emotionally, that together the church would grow in its love for Jesus and one another (verses 11-16). Paul also lists five ministry callings: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers (verse 11). His list is not exhaustive nor hierarchical but intended to provide five broad categories under which a more comprehensive list of the gifts of the Spirit apply.
Takeaway: Unfortunately, today’s church is prone to exalt those callings that “bring in the numbers” of saved souls. This mindset is counter-intuitive to unity and the building up of the body. In particular, this self-aggrandizing focus fails to recognize that our callings are Christ’s gifts, not ours. And our callings are empowered by his grace, not by self-improvement. So how do we avoid this trap of the Enemy that mars our witness of Christ and his Gospel? Paul exhorts us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in renewing our minds, not in the ways of the world but the likeness of our Creator (verses 17-24).
So how should we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our calling? By exercising our gifts in “true righteousness and holiness” (verse 24). Paul then gives us another list of do’s and don’t’s:
- Do put off falsehood and speak the truth (verse 25)
- Do express appropriate anger but do not let your feelings linger (verse 26)
- Do work honestly, sharing with others, and stop stealing (verse 28)
- Do speak words that build up and impart grace to others and cease corrupt talk (verse 29)
- Do be kind and tender-hearted, forgiving one another, and put away bitterness, slander, and wrath (verses 31-32)
It’s a stout description of “true righteousness and holiness,” which is impossible to consistently maintain without Christ meting his grace according to the type of gift he bestows on us. Indeed, those gifted to preach and teach Scripture will require an extra measure of grace to speak the truth in love (verse 15). And others with a prophetic ministry will need a healthy dose to speak words that build up rather than tear down. So no matter our gift, we will do well to exercise our calling with humility, knowing that all of us need a heaping measure of Jesus’ grace.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who has poured out grace on us in good measure. Would you please help us to exercise our calling with his grace and humility, that we might avoid competing and fighting within the body of Christ and instead diligently work toward building up the church and witnessing that we are his disciples? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling