LEARNING HOW TO WALK
One of the first major accomplishments of a little child is learning how to walk. As an infant he is totally dependent on others, but as he gets a little older he learns how to turn himself over, to get up on his hands and knees, and to begin to crawl. Later, he is able to pull himself up to a table or a sofa or a chair and begin to take those first faltering steps and to toddle around. Soon he is able to walk.
This has its spiritual parallel. We enter the family of God, the church, as newborn babes (Hebrews 5:13; I Peter 2:2). Early in our Christian life we depend on others to help us get around. But, as we learn and grow, we reach the point where we can stand on our own two feet and walk the Christian walk.
“Walk” is often used in scripture as a metaphor for “live.” Of Enoch it is said that he “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24). Of his illustrious great-grandson Noah the same is said (Genesis 6:9). As Christians, we are informed that that we rise from the watery grave of baptism to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). (It is sad that there are those so spiritually blind that they think they are in newness of life before they are immersed into Christ and His atoning death!) Of Christians it is said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7).
In his great letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul sets forth God’s grand scheme of human redemption. In the first three chapters of this profound document, the apostle gives an overview of God’s plan to save man by grace through faith and to reconcile alienated mankind to each other and to God in the one body, the church. The church is set forth as the fruition of God’s eternal purpose to save man through Christ (Ephesians 3:1-12). In the last three chapters of this New Testament book, Paul shows the practical, everyday side of what it means to be a person saved by grace through faith and how such a person is to live (walk).
As God’s redeemed children, we are to “walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). In the next two verses Paul mentions some of the things that this involves. We were called by the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:14), and our conduct is to be “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
We are not to walk “as the rest of the Gentiles walk” (Ephesians 4:17). Most of the Ephesian Christians were Gentiles, converts from the pagan world. Now that they (and we) have become children of God, neither they nor we are to live like the rest of the world lives (Note Ephesians 4:17-32 for insights into what this entails).
Of all people, Christians are to “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2). This is agape, the highest and purest form of love, and it is to motivate all that we do (I Corinthians 16:14).
God’s people are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Light” is a symbol of truth and righteousness, while “darkness” is a symbol of error and evil. Christians are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
We are to “walk circumspectly,” a word that carries with it the idea of “looking around,” being aware of our surroundings, living wisely (Ephesians 5:15-21).
When we turn to the three short letters of John near the end of the New Testament we discover additional inspired instructions as to how God’s people are to “walk.” John writes, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). He goes on to affirm, “He who says he abides in Him (Christ) ought himself to walk just as He (Christ) walked” (I John 2:6).
Further, we are told, “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (II John 6). It always amazes me that some of those who often speak so piously of loving God are the very ones who think that keeping His commandments is pure legalism and has nothing to do with love. But John said, “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3).
John concludes his instructions about how Christians are to “walk” by saying, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 4). In prayer to His Father, Jesus affirmed, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17b). Therefore, to “walk in truth” is to live by that which has been revealed and authorized in God’s word. For those presumptuous souls who think the Bible is only a book of nice suggestions and general principles, John warned, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (II John 9). To be pleasing to the Lord we must walk in the truth of His word!
How are we coming along in our “walk” with God? Are we still just crawling, maybe only toddling, perhaps stumbling and staggering?
“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly . . .” (Psalm 15:1-2, emphasis mine).
March 21, 2017