I would venture to say that a fair number of us reading this either played sports or music at some point in our lives. As I read Ephesians 4, I’m so thankful for the playbook or sheet music God gives us as the blueprint for how to live our life. The Word is full of this, but another great chapter that parallels this is Romans 12. In fact, if you are looking for a good resource, our small group did a Bible study by Chip Ingram called True Spirituality on how to become what he calls a Romans 12 Christian and it could have just as easily been about becoming an Ephesians 4 Christian.
Kurt Dorner is the Chief Development Officer with our Central Illinois Northwestern Mutual office, and he is also someone I am blessed to call a mentor and friend. Kurt’s mantra is “Better Every Day” which I absolutely love and reminds me of Ephesians 4. Kurt embodies a “growth” mindset. Just over a year ago I read a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck which changed my life and hopefully will result in changing the life of my family and those I mentor and lead. Carol talks about how most of us have a “fixed” mindset which means we see a limit or cap on things. We think we are either good or bad at certain things. For example, many say, “I’m bad at math.” This holds us back in life. Carol discusses that the highly successful have a “growth” mindset. They believe with practice and focus they can improve at anything. They also view nothing as failure and everything as learning or growth with no fear of the future and believe there is no cap on what’s possible.
Ephesians 4 rings of a “growth” mindset. In Ephesians 4:1, Paul states, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” In Ephesians 4:12=13 he says God gave us leaders to “equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ until we attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” In Ephesians 4:15, he says, “…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ.” Seriously?! Be like Jesus? He was without sin! I’m guaranteed to fail, right?
I have been a believer my whole life being blessed to grow up with my family raising me in the church (yes..there were still questions at times). However, nearly all my life I would say I still carried a “hardness of heart” Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:18. Not only was I hard on myself with a “fixed” mindset focusing on my failures, but I also focused on and judged other for their sins thinking they were worse than mine without much empathy for the pain or troubles they may be experiencing now or have experienced in the past. Over the last 6 years, I have developed a relationship with Christ through more time in prayer, more time in the Bible, and in close community with fellow believers in a small group. I can see a renewing of my mind Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:23 and Romans 12:2. I can see a softening of my heart as my relationship with Christ grows as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:24-32. I notice myself being more forgiving of others transgressions because Christ forgave me (Ephesians 4:33). Please take note that the verbs I used all included “ing” on the end of them. I’m nowhere near where God calls me to be, and I never will be. I sin every hour and likely every minute of every day. I desperately need a Savior in Jesus because even just one sin separates me from God without him (Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23). It’s about the process of improving though by striving to be like Christ not to earn grace, but because of his grace. It’s about a “growth” and a “better every day” mindset.
In Ephesians 4:1, God urges us through Paul’s writing to step into this calling to grow to be more like Christ. He knows we will never reach it by our own works on this Earth. 2 Cor 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God.” Here in Ephesians 4:7 he says, “But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” We will mess up many plays in the playbook of life, and we will miss many notes in our musical performance. However, 1 Corinthians 15:57 says,“But thanks be to God! He gives us victory (or a we could say a standing ovation) through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
All we have to do is believe in Him. For that free gift of grace I say God is good…wait…no…God is GREAT…all the time!