January 8, 2016
Ephesians 4:1-3 (International Standard Version)
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
What is Orthopraxy? It does not have to do with dentistry! But it certainly is not a word commonly used. I looked in five dictionaries that I have in my library, and I could not find the word in any of them! I had to go online to find it! According to Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/orthopraxy), it is “Right belief combined with right practice, with the emphasis being on the latter….”
But – as defined above – right practice must be based on right belief, because all of what you do will be based in some way on what you believe – your world view!
Right practice or conduct – Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus and boldly encouraged Orthopraxy in Ephesians 4:1 through 3:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live in a way that is
worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating
all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one
another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by
means of the bond of peace.
What are the practices the apostle advocates here? These seven:
• Humility – What have we accomplished in which to be proud, standing on our own? Nothing! Jesus said in John 15:5, “…without Me you can do nothing…” – Nothing that counts as acceptable before God! Nothing that will last for eternity! In Isaiah 64:6 (Good News Bible) it is written, “All of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through.”
That’s what we do! What we are, standing on our own, is also shocking! In Isaiah 40:15 and 17 this is the description of nations (societies, tribes, peoples, tongues – as well as individuals) without God:
Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small
dust on the balance….All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are
counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
However, even in our sin and rebellion, God loved us so much “…that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 – see also Romans 5:8; Hebrews 12:3). And, while we cannot do anything of value before God on our own, Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
• Gentleness – If we are to become more and more like Jesus, and we are (see Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18), consider what is prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 40:11: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” We are His sheep, His flock! (See also Psalm 100:3; John 10:1-18; 27-31).
• Patience – How patient God has been with me – and with you! Have you ever tried as a child to train and ant? Let’s say you want that ant to go in a straight line from point A to point B. Ninety Nine percent of the time the ant will go off on its own route, totally unaware which way you want that insect to go! After a few minutes of frustration, I would probably crush that ant into oblivion!
Are we not like the ant-in-training? Or maybe we are like sheep in Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way….” I am glad I am not God! I would have gone the way of that wayward ant under my training long ago! But Paul tells us in Romans 15:5 that God is “…the God of patience….”
God is patient! And we are called to be patient also…
* …with each other. In I Thessalonians 5:14 (Modern King James Version) we are told, “Now we exhort you, brothers, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, be patient toward all.”
* …under trials. Patience is seen in several Scriptures as one of the steps toward godliness. (See Romans 5:3-5; 12:12; James 1:2-4; I Peter 2:20; II Peter 1:6-8).
We will continue looking at Orthopraxy in Monday’s blog.