Jul 14, 2011

Privileges and Responsibility

Ephesians 4:1

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1).

No one mistakes Spider-Man for an erudite theologian, but even he is right when he says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This principle is clearly discernible in nature and in Scripture. All people expect those of many talents to use their skills to do the most good, and we are all dismayed when such individuals do wrongly or do not try to fulfill their potential. Jesus Himself tells us that “everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). The greater the gifts, the greater the duty to use them to benefit others.

Again, though he is not a theologian, we could paraphrase Spider-Man’s words to reflect another biblical truth: “With great privilege comes great responsibility.” The apostles teach plainly that salvation is a gift of God’s amazing grace, but they are likewise clear that our gracious redemption carries with it the obligation to live out our gratitude in certain ways. Our deeds cannot justify us — they cannot make us righteous in the Father’s sight — but they can and do reflect whether we are in a right relationship with the Lord (Gal. 2:15–16; Eph. 2:8–10; James 2:14–26).

In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges us “to walk in a manner worthy” of our calling. As is common in his letters, the apostle here makes reference to the effectual call of the Holy Spirit when He moves us to respond in faith to the gospel (see also Rom. 9:22–24). Business as usual cannot continue once we receive this unmerited favor. The One who showers it upon us is holy and merciful, and so we too must be holy and merciful. This constitutes part of what it means to live in a way that is worthy of this calling, a manner of life the apostle later describes as the imitation of God (Eph. 5:1). “Walk” in Ephesians 4:1 translates a form of the Greek word peripateō that suggests consistent, continual action. We must live in gratitude for our salvation always, and we can make no excuses when we fail to obey the Lord in love.

Left to our own devices, this task would be impossible. Yet Paul’s imperative is grounded in the present, indicative reality of our salvation. We walk worthy of Christ because He has already saved us; we do not walk worthy of Him to make Him save us. Divine grace redeems us, and we never stop relying on it in our walk with Jesus.

Coram Deo

Living in a manner worthy of our calling is not following a legalistic checklist of do’s and don’ts. Instead, it is a gratitude-inspired pursuit of God-given growth in personal holiness. Even though this is our duty, it should also delight us. If living according to the Lord’s will does not always seem like a delight to you, ask Him to make you rejoice in His law, but do not fail to keep your duty when because of sin it does not seem enjoyable.

For Further Study