“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” – Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
From this short verse written by Paul from his “prison cell” we may falsely assume a couple of things: 1. Everyone has a calling/vocation. 2. For those who are in Jesus Christ, you have received that calling/vocation. It’s God-glorifying verses like these that can leave believers wondering what is their true calling? Have they missed it? Misused what they have received? If they have already received it, then what is it?
If we return to the greek meaning of “calling” used in verse one, it could also be interpreted as a “divine invitation to embrace the salvation of God.” The calling isn’t so much a vocation that Paul may be speaking to, but rather we should live a life worthy of the salvation we have received (See Philippians 1:27). Exposing verse 1, Matthew Henry states, “…Christians ought to accommodate themselves to the gospel by which they are called, and to the glory to which they are called; both are their vocation. We are called Christians; we must answer that name, and live like Christians. We are called to God’s kingdom and glory; that kingdom and glory therefore we must mind, and walk as becomes the heirs of them.”
I don’t doubt that all of us have been uniquely gifted to glorify God with our work, however, the energy spent on “finding our calling” often pulls us away from a more simple, humble life. Unfortunately humility has lost its value in our culture, but God desires humility to be a supreme value of ours. In fact, the following Ephesians verse states, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
The exposition of verse 1 aligns closer to the nature of God who is more concerned about our soul and character than our vocation. I suspect it is why Paul immediately begins to direct us toward a life worthy of God’s salvation, a life that epitomizes Christ’s own life, a life that is humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love. I don’t think Paul immediately reminds us to be humble because of the grand calling or vocation we may receive – as if he is fearful that this grand calling may turn to pride and poison our souls. He points us to humility because this is the great calling and it is through humility that we will not waste our life but instead, by the power of the Spirit, help direct us in living a life worthy of the salvation we have received.
In the end, for those in Christ, we can assume that we 1. have been given a calling and 2. that we have received that calling. But ultimately it is not a vocation, a job, a task, or a ministry to which we have been called. We have all been called to live a life worthy of salvation given to us by God’s grace through Jesus Christ – a life of humbleness, gentleness, and love… regardless of the vocation we hold.