Whenever we take on a new job, there are certain expectations for the work that we will accomplish. There are certain things listed in the job description that we are required to perform, and a failure to meet those expectations is a failure to fulfill our role in that position. A similar thing happens with a person’s calling.
Now when I think of the word “calling,” I often think of someone like Paul who was “Called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). Or perhaps I might think of a pastor who has a call to preach. Yet as I was reading in my Bible the other morning, the Lord showed me that we all have a calling, no matter where we find ourselves in life. Even beyond that, He showed me a particular aspect of our calling. The passage I was reading was from the first letter to the Corinthians—
“Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,1 Corinthians 1:1-3
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now you may have noticed how Paul references his calling, but that is not the main point of this address. Look at what he identifies these believers as. He says that they are “saints by calling” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Okay, but what exactly does that mean?
To begin with, we must understand what the name “Saints” entails. Literally, it means “called-out ones,” or “those who are set apart.” They are distinct, separate, unique. But separate and distinct from what? In short, from sin.
In his second letter to these Christians, Paul quotes a very emphatic command from God. The Lord says of His people in reference to the unbelievers around them, “Come out from their midst and be separate…and I will welcome you” (Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corinthians 6:17). This comes right in the context of Paul speaking about believers being new creations and having nothing in common with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 5:17; 6:14, 15). This is something the Lord takes very seriously, and we need to see why.
It is not that Paul is saying we need to isolate ourselves from the world. No, he rejects that idea in another letter (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10). Instead, he is calling us to live lives separate from sin to God. He vehemently denounces the idea that we can continue in sin because of grace, exclaiming, “May it never be! How can we who have died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1, 2). The believer must realize that he is distinct from this world, he is set apart. He is holy.
That is really how we ought to understand this calling: we are called to be holy. That is it, pure and simple. Peter would directly relate the command “Be Holy” to the Lord’s holiness in his letter, but this is the fundamental idea Paul is making in his epistle to the Corinthians (1 Peter 1:15, 16). God has given all believers a task, a calling, and that is to live lives of holiness to Him. This is not just pastors, not just Sunday School teachers, not even just parents. It is to all of us.
Paul then takes this idea of fulfilling our calling to another level in his letter to the Ephesians. The fact that we have a calling ought to be enough to motivate us to fulfill it, but God expressly commands through Paul, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). Now the context there is directly tied to unity within the Body of Christ, but the principle remains the same. We have a calling, and we our obligated to live in a way that faithfully represents that calling.
No, we will never truly be worthy of the calling God has given us. Think of it more as living up to something, such as a tool performing as expected because of its brand. I know what to expect from DeWalt power tools, and a good drill will be “worthy” of the name stamped on the side of it. It represents that name well, not that it somehow earns that brand.
A similar thing happens to us. We do not achieve God’s grace, but we are to walk in a particular way in response to His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). One major part of that is to live lives of holiness.
So we have to ask ourselves, how are we doing? Am I showing to the world that I have a divine calling upon my life to die to sin and live a life of holiness in God’s service? Am I showing that I am set apart from the mindset of the world that says it is all about me, that I should work for all I can get out of life? Probing questions, but ones we cannot afford to shy away from.
We do not have a whole lot of time left here on earth. No, I don’t have some vision from God that has told me when the world will end, but I do know this: every morning I wake up, I have one less day to show God’s holiness than I did before. I may have two days, two weeks, two years, who knows. The point is that I do not know how long I have left, so I need to live everyday like it would be my last.
With that said, am I showing in an increasing way that I am wholly devoted to God in complete holiness? Is my life a testimony to the world of our holy God who abhors sin, but loves men so much that He has provided a way to deliver us from it? It should, and so should yours. These days are passing quickly, and there are so many who still have yet to hear and to accept the Gospel. Let us share that message with the world by walking worthy of our calling.