I love and so appreciate Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus and yes partly because he reminds us that we have been “predestined to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.” (Ephesians 1:5) This isn’t the only reason and not the point of this writing.
I hope to remind us living, worshiping and working in the 21st century of something Paul needed to remind his brothers and sisters doing the same in the 1st century. Paul begins his letter (chapters 1-3) bringing to their remembrance all the spiritual blessings they have in Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.Ephesians 1:5
With a crescendo, Paul declares dramatically, “Therefore…” because of all these blessing, because of our adoption, because of our being saved by faith through grace, because of our being God’s workmanship, because we are created for good works, because of ALL THIS…we should, we must, “walk worthy of the calling (manner of life) to which we have been called.” Ephesians 4:1.
This is clearly a compelling argument to make and is born out of and supported by many other Biblical principles, stories and parables.
What does it mean to “walk worthy”? What manner of life would demonstrate and manifest a worthy life and how would we categorize it among the scope and scale of human activity and endeavors?
First, it should conform to and manifest the inherent nature of our Creator in whose image we are made. It should be consistent with the declaration of ourselves being His workmanship and created for “good works” with the emphasis on “GOOD”. How then might we ascribe categorical attributes to such “good works” and to the people called to “walk in them”?
3 Attributes of Walking Worthy
For brevity, I’ll suggest three attributes and one reason for these attributes. These works, this “walking worthy”, this manner of live should be:
1. Honorable things: 2 Corinthians 8:21
Caring and sharing with those in need is not just honorable in God’s eyes, but even mankind in general, recognizes this as being honorable and good.
2. Noble things: Philippians 4:8-9
There is so much chaos, negativity, evil, apathy, corruption and debauchery in our modern world, not of course unlike what Paul faced in his time. Our manner of life absolutely must conform to the noble, true and beautiful (lovely) nature of word, grace, and justice and mercy so described here.
3. Good work things: Titus 2:14
Jesus gave Himself for us, not simply or not just to “save” and “redeem us” but by doing so He also made possible our “restoration” to be God’s special people “zealous for good works”. This is the “gospel” , the blending of redemption and restoration, so that God’s kingdom is established here on earth and through His people.
These then are attributes of a walk worthy of the gospel, reflecting our gratitude for all spiritual blessing, manifesting both our redemption through Christ and our restoration to image bearing people.
Examples of Good Works
What then are some specific examples of such “good works” to which we are called and in which we must walk?
I want to contend and emphasize that one of these good works MUST include an activity that is “THE” definition of “pure religion” as written by James, the Lord’s brother. James 1:27. In connection with this and to underscore its significance we should remember that James’ definition of pure religion IS NOT NEW. James echoes the prophet Isaiah.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.Isaiah 1:16-17
Coming back to our reflections on Paul’s instructions and admonitions to his 1st century brothers in Ephesus. He writes in the very same context of “walking worthy” (because of all our spiritual blessings) that Christ gave gifts to the church.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”Ephesians 4:7-8
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of ChristEphesians 4:11-12
Trusting that the case has been made that we are created for good works. These works should be seen by and in the sight of God and man as being, HONORABLE, NOBLE and GOOD. That in the context of these three (and there a certainly more) attributes, an activity that defines pure religion, “caring for the fatherless” represents absolutely, “goodness”, compassion, grace, mercy and God’s love and this particular good work has always been commanded, expected and defined what religion is considered “PURE” in God’s eyes…
How are we being equipped for this work of ministry? More directly, how are those who today function and labor in the category and in the activities of those gifts to the church that remain, Evangelists, Pastors (elders) and Teachers, how are they equipping the saints to “care for the fatherless”?
Here is an idea to consider, an idea to start the equipping process for this particular “work of ministry” caring for the fatherless”.
ONE LESSON A YEAR. If you’re an elder, a preacher, a teacher, would you commit to giving ONE, just ONE lesson a year on the WHY and HOW we as God’s redeemed people, zealous for good work can get this done?
How to Get Involved with OLAY
Here also is how we hope to help, encourage, promote and share this call to action:
We have created an OLAY page specifically for this idea of promoting adoption. This page explains in greater detail this idea and we have already begun to add lessons, sermons and other presentations about caring for the fatherless. Over the past couple of years I have spoken to at least forty men (preachers and elders) about this idea and so far everyone has agreed the concept and most have committed to giving OLAY.
Please consider doing so as well. Caring for the fatherless is and has always been a good work, a definition of pure religion and a powerful example of kingdom work.