“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ….” (Philippians 1:27a)
Over the last 27 years, it has been my calling and privilege to participate in many prayer efforts in our region. I am particularly excited about a group of young adult Christians in Johnson City who have since January been gathering downtown at 7 PM for prayer six nights per week (Monday-Saturday).
The divine vision for this prayer ministry was given to one young man, but he shares the leadership of the gatherings with other young men and women. Each time I attend, I am richly blessed by their reverent love for the Lord, their unashamed faith in His Word, and their strong desire to draw near to Him and serve Him.
On my last occasion there, one young man fervently prayed this phrase: “I want to live a life worthy of the gospel.”
I was riveted, humbled, even awestruck, to hear someone that new to adulthood crying out for such a spiritually mature and selfless life purpose. And I knew the intensity of the moment came in part because I could not recall any other time when I heard that phrase prayed or preached … including by me.
As someone who trusts in and seeks to diligently study the Bible, I was very familiar with the call to and cost of Christian discipleship. Some would even describe me as an exhorter of obedience, service, and sacrifice. “Worthy” was, however, a word I would normally only apply to God, not to my own life.
It was only after I returned home that evening that I identified Philippians 1:27 as the scriptural source of my young brother’s prayer and recognized this call to a gospel-worthy life as a repeated theme of the apostle Paul. (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12)
What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ, or as those other scriptures might add, worthy of our God, our Lord and our calling as His disciples?
The first thing we must understand is that we are not called to a life “worthy” of our salvation, because we are not remotely capable of earning atonement of our sins and the incredible gift of everlasting life. (Ephesians 2:1-8)
Instead, we are called to a life worthy of our Savior and His sacrifice for us, worthy of our Father’s love that sent His Son to die for us, worthy of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and worthy of our incredible calling to witness this Good News to others by all we say and do. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 4:1-16).
I believe a life worthy of the gospel of Christ begins with daily gratitude for all God has done and is doing for us. (Psalm 100:4; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:6-7). How many of us spend much of our life taking God and His blessings for granted?
The second key to a life worthy of the gospel is childlike humility: recognizing who God really is, who we are in comparison, and how dependent upon Him we are. (Matthew 18:1-4) Pride and self-centeredness are the bane of the Church in America. (James 4:6-10; Luke 9:23-24)
Our gratitude and humility can give birth to the third essential of a gospel-worthy life: trusting obedience. Real faith in Jesus as Lord is revealed by actions, not just talk. (Matthew 7:21; John 14:21; James 2:14-26)
Trusting obedience requires us to serve the Lord by a life of serving others. (Mark 9:35; John 13:3-17) Yet how many of us can presently say we expect to enter heaven and hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:14-30) How many of us risk hearing, “What you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for Me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
Finally, a gospel-worthy life is a life of agape love: the unconditional, selfless, forgiving, sacrificial love revealed in Christ that we are to have for God, all others, and even ourselves. (Mark 12:28-34; John 13:34-35; Ephesians 4:30-5:2) Without agape love, we accomplish nothing. (1 Corinthians 13). And this love must, like trusting obedience, be in truth and deed. (1 John 3:18)
My description of a life worthy of the gospel may make it seem completely out of reach, but remember, the God who calls us to this life lives within our “clay jars” to empower it, even beyond our ability to ask or imagine! (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:20-21) He is ready to talk with us all the time. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) He can fill our hearts with agape love. (Romans 5:5) He can lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) If God is for us …? (Romans 8:31)
Are you living a life worthy of the gospel? If not, there is no better time to begin.
God bless you, and God bless our community.