Ye Ought to Walk
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
This passage has nothing to do with physical exercise, but rather the conduct of one’s life as a child of God. Read the chapter and study the context. In verse 12, Paul orders that we must “walk honestly toward them that are without.” The text leads us to verses 13 through 18, in which Paul assures the living they will not miss the sight of the Lord’s return, and therefore should not sorrow as those who have no hope. Instead, we are to long for His return, and comfort one another with the reality of His promised return. But, let’s return to the first twelve verses of this text.
While walking is an exercise, this passage is not speaking of physical mobility, but rather of spiritual conduct before those around us. Knowing the commandments given, we are to abound in obedience to these directives (vss. 1 – 2). God’s will is our sanctification: i.e., our being set aside from all worldly things, and made for a holy use to the Lord (compare 2 Timothy 2). To do so, we must avoid fornication. (vs. 3). Some might question why this subject is addressed. Don’t Christians have the moral compass to know fornication is sin? Evidently, not all do! Therefore, Paul, by inspiration, spoke boldly of this evil, stating that, “every one of you should know how to possess his vessel [i.e., body] in sanctification and honor; Not in the lust of concupiscence, [passion of lust] even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” (vss. 3 – 6). Further, “God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” (vs. 7) What “holiness” is there in sinful conduct, especially that of immorality wherein sinful conduct always includes more than one in its damnation? Yet, there are Christians who ignore this commandment and fail to realize “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” Be reminded that, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10:31)
The Thessalonians, however, seemed determined to avoid walking sinfully. Notice: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (vss. 13 – 18) Their conduct (i.e., walk) displayed brotherly love – a “stride” if you will, that Paul desired they should increase more and more! Further, their “walk” was quiet, i.e., without great fanfare. Finally, they walked honestly toward them that are without, and thus lacked nothing. As we might observe this spiritual gait, they were upright, even, focused, and paced with determination!
Jeremiah said, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23) Therefore, God has given us the instructions of how we should walk! Notice as well that “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) With faith coming only by the hearing of God’s word (Romans 10:17) it behooves us to learn how to walk by gaining all the faith from God’s word we can gain! Granted, physically our feet and ankle bones get sore; our knees wear out as do our hips. But again, we’re not talking physically: we’re talking about our spiritual walking! We do not walk after the flesh, but being spiritual, we walk after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1; 4; Gal. 5:16). We are to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, (Eph. 5:15); which form of walking permits our worthiness of the vocation wherewith we are called (Eph. 4:1). As we have obeyed Christ Jesus, we are to walk in Him (Col. 2:6).
Finally, notice it is a walk, not a run! Our Lord is loving enough to lead the way; ours is to follow Him. (Matt. 16:24) His pace is one of patience, and though the journey may lead us through difficult places (Ps. 23) there is no need to fear (Heb. 13:5 – 6). Let us never grow weary of the journey, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not (Gal. 6:9). The need, dear reader, is to keep walking and stop standing still as if there is no more to our journey!