Do you ever feel like the Christian walk is some kind of competition or race? Do you feel like at times it just feels like a never-ending to-do list? Even Scripture can sound or feel like that at times. Take a look at Ephesians 4:2-3
Walk worthy of your calling with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Do you feel pressure when you read that?
Are you a “worthy walker”?
Is your daily Christian walk filled with “ALL humility and gentleness, with patience”?
Do you always bear with others in love?
Are you always eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?
Well when we put that pressure on ourselves, I think we get stuck on ourselves. When we get stuck on ourselves it truly is such a heavy burden. Then Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle (meek) and lowly in heart (humble) and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30)
His yoke is a big wooden beam, called a cross. Somehow, humility makes that burden light; it makes all burdens light. And that burden makes you humble and sets your feet to dancing.
At the cross, we die to the self, that’s our unbearable burden.
At the cross, Jesus gives us Himself, and He is entirely worthy.
The reason why we sometimes feel pressure when we read Scripture like that is that we think we’re supposed to humble ourselves, but we can’t humble ourselves (and love others) simply by trying.
You can’t “walk in a manner worthy of your calling” simply by trying to walk in a manner worthy of your calling. That’s trying to justify yourself with the law, and you can’t justify yourself with the law. The law can tell you when you’re not doing what you were created for, but the law can’t make you do it.
I once heard a story about a pastor who threw himself down at the front of the church in humility. The choir director happened to observe this from the balcony, then he too came to the front of the church, threw himself down and cried, “I’m nobody. I’m nobody!” Following that, a congregant came up to the front and did the same, at which point the choir director nudged the pastor and said, “Look who thinks he’s a nobody.”
Well . . . that’s a silly story but it raises good questions: how can we be humble, meek, and sacrificially love without competing, hating our neighbor and becoming proud of our humility?
Isn’t humility losing yourself? Didn’t someone say, “You must lose your life to find it?”
If I’m always focused on myself—whether I’m impressed with myself or ashamed of myself—I’m still stuck on myself, and that’s not humility. That’s not a “walk worthy of my calling.” And what’s my calling? “To exist to the praise of God’s glory in Christ Jesus my Lord” (Eph. 1:11).
You see? If I try to make myself worthy, I don’t exist to the praise of His glory; I exist to the praise of my own glory. And how could anyone even begin to think that they could make themselves worthy of God’s glory? That’s a burden, infinitely greater than we could even begin to bear. It’s sheer insanity, and not only that; it’s the essence of sin. It’s believing you are God and you make yourself in God’s image…
But we are still presented with a dilemma: Paul still writes, “I beseech you, walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called. With all humility…”
Humility topeinophrosunei is literally “lowliness of mind.”
In Greek culture, humility was definitely not a virtue. Humility is the realization that you don’t deserve anything. R.C. Trench writes: “It comes from the constant sense of your own creatureliness”–the realization that you didn’t create yourself. So, of course, you don’t deserve anything, for what could you deserve it with?
“What do you have that you did not receive?” asks Paul in 1 Corinthians.
So, when Paul wrote, “Walk in a manner worthy of your calling…with all humility,” he’s saying walk entirely aware that you cannot make yourself worthy. Now do it!
How do we walk in a worthy manner . . . If we can’t humble ourselves with ourselves? If we can’t make ourselves meek by asserting ourselves? If we can’t lose our lives by trying?
It’s like trying to forget something.
Have you ever done that: “Man I really need to think about forgetting that thing I don’t want to think about”” How do you purposefully forget something? Well . . . you have to think of something better than the thing you were trying to forget.
Humility is like that. If you want to humble yourself, you have to gaze on something actually Someone better than yourself.
The art of worthy walking is like a dance. In order to truly dance you have to forget yourself and be caught up in the gaze of the One leading the dance so that you can surrender yourself to Him and become lost in the joy of His lead.
Dancing is a heavy burden—if you try to do it alone, but it’s pure delight if you entrust yourself to the Creator of the dance, look at His gaze and surrender yourself to His lead.
Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest penance, the greatest humility, the greatest honor that we can give to our God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love.”
His love alone makes us worthy. There is nothing you or I can do to earn it. It’s already been given—“while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
May you enjoy that gift during this season of remembering His incarnation.
May you take the time to gaze on the Creator of the dance who gave Himself for you: Emmanuel, God with us, revealed in us.
As we enter the Advent season:
May you know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever Amen.
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of devotional thoughts from Kimberly and excerpts from Peter’s sermon titled “A Gift to Be Given” To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: Worthy Walking
*Discussion Questions are available here: Discussion Questions 1/1/13