A lot of people would give God permission to make them His children, if it guaranteed an eternal inheritance. Yet many of those same people would refuse God the right to direct that person’s life. But the right of creation creates a number of other rights for the Creator. The Bible teaches that the potter has power over the clay. The right of blessing walks hand in hand with the right of direction. and only ostrich-like professing Christians miss fact that God outlines how He wants us spend our lives.
I know from experience that many sermons on Christian living end up with a list of negatives. Sometimes that is necessary – Children need to hear specifics, and I’m afraid we are all children. Sometimes, a simple, “Be good while I’m gone,” just isn’t sufficient. Sometimes it needs to be said, “Don’t spray-paint the dog; don’t glue the pages of sister’s book together, and don’t try to build a camp-fire in the living room.” But, of course, I am being silly – these are a bit extreme, aren’t they? No child is that dumb, is he? Actually, even the children of God are that dumb. What sort of sins have you committed since you were saved? Some of those sins have been more than just dumb. Despite our weaknesses, It shouldn’t be necessary for the Christian to hear only negatives. The power, effects, blessings and testimony of the Christian life are positive. And if our neighbor sees only the negatives in our Christian lives, he is not going to be interested in our Saviour. We need to have worthy lives, not just restricted lives.
The operative word for our lesson tonight is the Greek “axios” which is translated “worthy” or “befitting”. John used “axios” when he said, “I want you to bring forth fruit MEET (worthy, befitting) of repentance.” The thief on cross told his neighbor, “We are receiving the due reward (or fitting reward) for our deeds.” The word “axious” means “deserving,” “comparable,” or “suitable.” So Paul, here in our text, exhorts us to walk in a way which is “suitable” to our heavenly calling.
Specifically, Paul speaks of walking worthy of our VOCATION.
In the light of this scripture, your “vocation” is not builder, baker, candle stick-maker, or even homemaker. The word is “klesis” and it refers to a “vocation” in the sense of “calling” – the calling from God. So this takes us back to Paul’s conversion on Highway 101 to Damascus. And each of us have callings somewhat parallel to his.
You have been called of God for a purpose, walk worthy of that purpose. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Philippians 3:14 – “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The same word “klesis” is used here and modified with word “ano” – “the calling from above.” That is the calling which every child of God has received. The high calling of God makes the lowliest saints important in the Lord’s program. There is more glory, value and worth to the world – and to the Lord – in any saint than there are the greatest worldly humanitarian, statesmen or philanthropist. But there is one stipulation in order to be effective – first, we must walk worthy of that calling. How about II Timothy 1:9 – The Lord “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Hebrews 3:1 – “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Here we have a holy and heavenly calling – “klesis.” These speak of the ultimate end of this calling of God. The child of God has been called by the glorious and holy, Lord God of Heaven.
In Ephesians 4:1-3 Paul explained what “worthily” meant to him as he lay there in prison. It meant humility and meekness; it meant patience and love – it should mean spirituality and unity. The more highly we estimate the calling of God, the more carefully we will maintain it. The good ambassador tries to live a life that befits his high vocation. And we are ambassadors for Christ.
I once read of a successful and respected businessman who was asked for advice to pass on to his successor. He said, “Belong to something bigger than yourself. Work with others toward a common goal. Do your part, and take pride in doing your part well. Work hard to make your ideas become a reality. And build something of lasting value.”
Transfer that into your Christian life. Do you do your part to make this church, and Christianity as a whole, a welcome place for others? Do you work well with other believers as individual members of the body of Christ? Do you know and understand your spiritual gifts and do you actually use them? Do you live in surrender to the Spirit, seeking to improve those spiritual gifts? And can you see lasting results for the way that you’ve spent your “vocation”? If you can’t answer “yes,” then you are you really walking worthy of your calling?
We are also exhorted to walk worthy of the GOSPEL.
“Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” The Philippian Christians were urged to let their lives befit the Gospel. Why? Because our lives reflect on the value of the Gospel of Christ. And what is the worth of the Gospel? The value of the Gospel reaches such heights that words can’t express it. What is the value of a stack of quarters that reach all the way to the moon? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t mind having all those quarters. What is the value of that same mound if it reached all way to Alpha Centaurii? What is the value of grace – grace that reaches beyond Alpha Centauri up toward Heaven and eternity? There is nothing as important as saving grace – and that grace is carried to men through the Gospel. At the great White throne – while sitting on the brink of Hell, nothing will be as sought after as the Gospel.
Years ago, a good friend of mine visited England and stopped at the Tower of London. Among other things, that Tower is now the home of royal treasury. In it lies the crown jewels, one of the largest and most expensive collections of jewelry in the world. But that man told me that the royal guards were almost as magnificent as the jewels they protect. People from all over the world stop to watch the changing of those guards at the Tower of London. They are magnificent, because they behave in a manner worthy of their magnificent responsibility.
“Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”
The Bible also speaks of walking worthy OF OUR LORD.
Colossians 1:8-12 – Give “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
This statement is perhaps even more important than the call for the Gospel worthiness. Theologically Colossians is a Christological book – it takes us more to the root rather than the fruit of our salvation. And even the exhortations which we find here are related to our relationship to Christ.
Your walk as a Christian reflects on your estimation of Saviour. Is Jesus just another hill-billy Galilean, without letters – without culture – as the Jews said of Him? Is He a mere man? Or is He God of the Universe, demanding and receiving the respect and adoration of angels? When the angels cry out one another, “Holy, holy, holy” about whom do they sing? It is Christ. Is the Lord Jesus just a deified man as the Mormons try to tell us? Is He is a special angel as the Jehovah’s Witnesses try to purvey? Of course not, He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Before Him, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess His deity and sovereignty. “All power has been given unto him in heaven and in earth.” The Father hath given all things into his hands.
It is before this one that Paul tells the Colossians – and us – to walk worthily.
And we should also be willing to walk worthy of being SAINTS.
Romans 16:1-2 – “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” Hidden in verse 2 is our word “axios.” It is often translated “worthy,” but here it is given in the form “as becometh” saints. And what is it to be behave as a saint of God? Saints! The word speaks of separation from sin and consecration to the Lord.
As the Roman army was conquering the western world, they were also capturing heathen idols. When they brought them back to Rome, many rejoiced at seeing those defeated gods. But there was also a subtle corrupting influence; adding to the already demonic idolatry of the city. Rome was a caldron of seething sin, stinking with the aroma of “religion.” There was more and more religion, until it finally embraced a corrupted form of Christendom. And yet there in the midst of that hedonism and idolatry was a little band of Christian disciples. The Christians there had been called to be saints, and they were encouraged to live like it. They did live like it. And that meant being separated from the sin in which they were submerged. The Lord blessed those saints.
“As becometh saints” is an interesting little phrase. It is God telling His people that they are peculiar – but not in the sense we saw it in I Peter 2:9. Christians are to live, act, talk, dress, fight and believe in a different way than the world. A saint belongs to God and lives like it, even though he may be surrounded by corruption. He is a dove in cage full of buzzards and vultures, just awaiting to be set free.
Remember in this case that the exhortation is to believers – for the benefit of believers. Our relationship to the Lord has a practical family echo to it. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” Saints live and serve Christ through living for and serving others on their way toward God. And each ought to esteem others better than himself.
This is the meaning of walking as worthy of the saints.
And we are also told to walk worthy of GOD.
I Thessalonians 2:10-12 – “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
As a Christian, what is our relationship to God? Jehovah, used to be merely God – He was our heavenly observer, but now He is our Heavenly Father. He now is our rock, fortress, our stronghold in whom we hide – rather than the One from whom we hide. He is our comforter, our shepherd, our guide and our friend. But He is still our Lord and our Master.
Thinking of this relationship, what ought to be our attitude and our walk before him? Sure, He corrects us – but with Love, as a Father, and not as a judge. Does it make sense to treat such a Father discourteously? Does it make sense to be kind to someone in their presence and then disrespectful of him all the rest of the time?
A walk that is worthy of God is a walk that God Himself would take. And that is Christian conduct in a nutshell. Instead of a multitude of regulations we have one principle – godliness. Be ye therefore followers of God and walk in love. Be ye therefore followers of God and walk in full and complete righteousness. Be ye therefore followers of God and walk in separation from the sinful world. Our Saviour is the proof, the guide and the example that these things can be followed. A positive and useful life for God can be ours through yielding to Christ and the Holy Spirit. Walk worthy of the God who hath called us unto His kingdom and glory.
There is a progression here. Walk worthy of your calling, your sainthood, the gospel, the Saviour and the Father. What more positive encouragement to a godly life can anyone give? There can be no higher life to live than to live worthy of very worthy things.