I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called,
It is touching to see how the great apostle, who had a right to issue commands to the Churches in the name of Christ, prefers to beseech his readers with gentle entreaty as "the prisoner in the Lord." This method is as much a mark of his wisdom as of his humility and kindness of heart. For we are all more easily moved by persuasion and sympathy than by patronage and authority.
I. CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO A HIGH VOCATION.
1. There is a Divine call. We are not left to drift through life aimlessly, nor are we permitted to carve out careers for ourselves. Divine purposes go before us, mapping out our course of future service; and Divine voices in the gospel and in our hearts bid us follow our vocation.
2. The call is lofty and worthy of all honor. Christians are not saved with a bare and beggarly deliverance, like shipwrecked mariners flung upon the beach, half drowned and bereft of everything. When we enter the Christian life we commence a course of high service, vast enterprise, and splendid aims.
3. The purpose of this vocation is to glorify God and bless the world by realizing the idea of the Christian Church. In the previous chapter St. Paul has been describing some of the great privileges of Christians, which consist chiefly in their being built into one great temple and growing together in union. The breaking down of national, ecclesiastical, intellectual, and moral barriers, and the building up of one great family, knit together by love and united through a common union with Christ, is St. Paul's magnificent conception of the fruits that the gospel is to bear on earth.
II. IT IS THE DUTY OF CHRISTIANS TO WALK WORTHILY OF THEIR HIGH CALLING.
1. The responsibility of fulfilling our vocation rests upon us. We are called, not driven, and we can disobey the Divine voice. But though we are free from compulsion, we are not free from responsibility. For God has a right to call us whither he wilt, and Christ has laid us under peculiar obligations by his work and sacrifice for us.
2. This fulfillment of our vocation must be in our daily conduct. We are to "walk worthily." Belief and worship are not enough. The life and the whole work and daily occupation are to follow the Divine call.
3. Christian consistency is squaring our conduct with our calling. Many make much of mere self-consistency; but it is well often to be inconsistent with ourselves, or we can never progress, much less repent and amend. Nor is it enough to make our actions consistent with our opinions, unless both opinions and actions are consistent with truth, with God's will, and with our vocation.
III. WALKING WORTHILY OF THE CHRISTIAN CALLING CONSISTS CHIEFLY IN MAINTAINING AND INCREASING OUR MUTUAL BROTHERHOOD. Love is the queen of the New Testament graces. Selfishness, moroseness, lack of sympathy, and the like are sins against the peculiar genius of the gospel. To be zealous in defending the faith, to be pure as white marble in saintly separation from vice, to be strict in integrity, etc., will not be enough; for our calling is to a brotherhood, and our worthy walking must help this.
1. Negatively, we must have lowliness which declines to assert one's self before one's brethren, meekness which acts gently to them, and long-suffering which bears with any provocations they may give us.
2. Positively, we must extend Christian unity and the spirit of peace. The peaceful brotherly spirit must not only be passively harmless, it must be earnest, active, and diligent. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,