If someone asked about your calling, what would you say? That you’re a writer, mother, teacher, or overseas missionary? Or, with your mind on all those specific roles you see others living out, would you declare you simply didn’t know? What if I told you your calling, your purpose, was actually much simpler, but also much broader, and maybe even more difficult?
In Ephesians 4, Paul urged the Ephesians to “live a life worthy” of their calling, a word often talked about today in Christian circles. But Paul wasn’t encouraging the ancient believers, or us, to join some amazing ministry or launch a spectacular, awe-inspiring revival. Not that those are bad things. In fact, they can be very good things, but they must never become the thing. Paul’s meaning went deeper. He wanted believers to excel in love. That’s why we exist—to love God and to love others. To know Christ, growing ever closer to Him, and making Him known. To reflect Him in all we say and do.
“Be completely humble and gentle;” Paul wrote in verse two, “be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
As followers of Christ, that’s our aim as well, because that’s what love looks like. It’s humble and gentle. Humility comes from recognizing our dependence on Christ and precisely why we need Him. We’re also to respond to others with gentleness, which, biblically, means strength under control. Paul routinely demonstrated both traits. He stated, in the same letter, that he was “the least of all God’s people,” but also that he was sent by God Himself. He wasn’t proud, nor was he insecure. Instead, he was focused—on Christ and Christ’s mission, and that single-minded focus led to an incredible impact.
Paul, a man of passion and influence, was also gentle. Yielding to the Holy Spirit within, he spoke strong, clear words, but always with grace. The result? He led many to Christ, where they received life-change. Men and women became part of a united and connected faith community: Christ’s body. This is where they learned to live in their new identity as humble, gentle, and called children of God.
That was their greatest call. Sure, God had other assignments for them—to teach, to lead, maybe to act as hosts and hostesses, but those were merely expressions of their ultimate purpose to love and live loved.
Their humble, gentle, and sacrificial love wasn’t in any way more glamorous then, than it is today- that's why obedience can feel hard. We might not receive any accolades or recognition, this side of heaven. We won’t make the news headlines or social media rounds, but we will play a part in life change. We’ll also create relationships that reveal the gospel, a gospel that unites people of every nation, tongue, perspective, and personality under the Lordship of Christ, not only as fellow-laborers but as closely connected as one’s hand is to their wrist or head to their neck. Unique yet interdependent, and incomplete alone.
Uniting with others in love is easy in theory but can be so hard to practice when we’re with someone who, say, is a new believer from a difficult past and who maybe doesn’t handle conflict well or who demonstrates a certain level of emotional immaturity. Or when we’re maybe a visionary working on a project with someone who’s highly detail-oriented and therefore seems critical or slow. Or maybe we’re the one who wants to ensure things are done right and feel our big picture friend or colleague simply doesn’t understand. I’m relatively certain that pride lies beneath every irritation, impatience, and offense, which makes humility the perfect anecdote.
What’s more, pride and abrasiveness divide, whereas humility and gentleness unite. Humility and gentleness unite God’s children, build up the church, and glorify Christ. When we focus on those things, lives are changed for all of eternity. Consider that, the next time you’re paired with someone who challenges your patience or your perspective. Hold tight to this when you feel disillusioned with ministry results or confused regarding a certain opportunity. Hold tight to your true call, your irrevocable and glorious call, when our achievement-obsessed culture implies that you’re somehow insufficient or insignificant.
Remember your greatest call, your primary call—to love. Remember the One who called you. Remember the price He humbly paid for you, so that you could humbly reflect Him.