Plain Papers for Young Believers: Walking

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 9
We have spoken of the Christian’s attitude in waiting for Christ’s return, in the last paper, in which we also saw that two other attitudes are also closely connected with this event; namely, the Christian’s walk and work. We will now briefly consider the former of these two. In the first place, let us clearly understand that “walking” is not “working,” properly so-called. The distinction, indeed, seems so plain as to be hardly necessary at all, yet there is a great deal of confusion on this very point. People seem to think that if they are walking steadily and correctly, and are manifesting Christ more or less in their daily lives, they are doing all that can be required of them; and yet it may be that with all this, beautiful as it is in its place, they may be ignoring and leaving undone a large amount of Christian work that is ready for them. We will point out one or two scripture expressions on this subject.
Walking and Working
“To me to live is Christ” is a very comprehensive one, and includes both the walk and work, indeed, all that Christ did. Would that we knew more of its meaning!
Take, however, the exhortations to a godly walk in the Ephesians—to walk worthy of our vocation, to walk in love, and walk circumspectly; also those of Peter on the same subject, and compare them with “Always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:5858Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)); “If any man’s work abide” (1 Cor. 3:1414If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:14)); “To every man his work” (Mark 13:3434For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. (Mark 13:34)), and it will be at once seen that “walk” is not the same as “work,” though in some cases the word is so used as to include it: as, “Walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God” (Col. 1:1010That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10) JND).
We, however, are so one-sided in our actions and views that, far from maintaining the even balance of Scripture, we either are very active in works, often seeking in that activity to cover up the want of a really godly and Christ-like walk; or else we become so occupied with the passive side of the new life as to have but little Christian activity left. Some, indeed, press work, work, work, till it would seem as if Christianity were all work. Others say only walk, walk, walk, as if the Christian had no real work to do. What Christ wants is both.
Walking in the Light
Taking light first, we find that all believers walk in the light (1 John 1:6, 76If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:6‑7)), but not according to it (Eph. 5:88For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (Ephesians 5:8)); that is to say, being brought out of darkness into His marvelous light, we are set in a position where no darkness affords an excuse for stumbling. The twilight is passed; we stand in the full blaze of the gospel day. Hence the exhortation in Ephesians is to walk according to the sphere in which we are set. When a Christian sins, therefore, it is not in darkness, but in and against the light, so that we are without excuse. But light is not merely a question of position; from it flow several important qualities of the Christian walk. Righteousness, holiness, truth, purity, are all fruits of light, and of cardinal value in the Christian life.
Fruits of Light
Righteousness is divine light applied to the affairs of daily life; holiness is divine light applied to the life with God; truth is divine light ruling my words; purity, divine light ruling myself (1 John 3:33And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)). We have already considered the question of a righteous walk in paper number 4, and that of a holy or sanctified walk in number 5; both of these, let us remember, are directly connected with the Lord’s return in Revelation 22. In 1 Thessalonians 3:1313To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13), as we have seen, holiness is connected with the Lord’s return; but here, let us remark, it is inward, a holy heart before God. What a thought!—a heart really consecrated to God, where He is first in all things, separated to Him. What a source this is for the holy walk that follows in the next verse (1 Thess. 4:11Furthermore 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. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)).
“The lip of truth shall be established forever” (Prov. 12:1919The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)). But God desires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:66Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)), and “walking in truth” (2 John 44I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. (2 John 4)) goes far beyond these words, all-important as they are. With regard to speaking the truth, one has expressed a very beautiful thought to the effect that we should so “seek to speak that our words shall express exactly the fact, no more and no less; so that speaking, like painting, shall become an art, which shall in the most appropriate words, instead of colors, lay the matter before the hearer.” In the present day, especially, when exaggeration is so common, it is as singular as it is refreshing to find a young Christian so weighing his words as to be as accurate as a good picture. Is not our Lord’s reply when asked who He was, in John 8, a proof how perfectly true and transparent His words had ever been? “Altogether that which I also say to you” (John 8:2525Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. (John 8:25) JND). Surely the habit of consciously being in the light of God’s presence greatly tends to this true speaking. But truth in the inward parts is what God requires — true to God, to myself, and to others — to God, in all His Word requires from me—to myself, in really and truly being what I am, no more, no less, putting on no false appearances, not deceiving myself—true to others, not deceiving them, avoiding all hypocrisy. This true living is of all importance to a young believer, as many things may tend to make him unreal. If he has learned quickly much spiritual truth, and yet not been brought very really into God’s presence, he is very apt to desire to appear more than he really is, and prone to seek to be accredited for the truth he knows, rather than for the life he leads. The most dangerous position of all is when he has stepped into some right position before God without real exercise of conscience, and then supposes that the position entitles him at once to look down on others, and imagines himself far on in the school of God. Be severe with yourself, beloved reader; at all costs be truthful; underrate rather than overrate your spiritual state. This alone leads to a truer and holier walk. Walking in the truth is different (2 John 11The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; (2 John 1)), and means walking according to the revealed Word of God. This, it is needless to say, is of all importance. No walk, however sincere, can possibly be according to God that is not according to “the truth.”
The Threefold Sphere of Love
Love is the second great characteristic of God, and therefore of the Christian’s walk. We are exhorted to walk in love— love to God, to our fellow believers, to our fellow men. Love to God shows itself in obedience. Obedience, to be worth anything, is the offspring of love. Thus alone Christ obeyed, and to His obedience are we set apart (1 Pet. 1:2-142Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: (1 Peter 1:2‑14)). Turning instinctively to God for direction in every event of life, waiting till we get it, and then following it. Such is the path of Psalm 32, and that of the obedient child—a path of security, of happiness, of freedom from care, though not from carefulness. “To obey,” too, “is better than sacrifice,” and it springs from hearkening, which is better than “the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:2222And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)). It may not bring us much praise or credit, but it always pleases God, and even when we are slow of understanding, if the desire is to obey, the Lord will guide. This then is the proof of love to God, and a special blessing is reserved for those who thus walk (John 14:2323Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)). Love to our brethren is mostly shown in washing one another’s feet; this is the most delicate proof of real love that can be given, and the rarest (John 13). Love can be shown in the cup of cold water, in the offering of a sweet-smelling savor (Phil. 4:1818But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)), in caring for bodily or spiritual needs. The heart that is “at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize,” will readily discover the appropriate way of showing love. Love to the world at large is most shown in pointing them to Christ. Caring for the suffering and the poor is an essentially Christian duty; but care for the soul comes first, though it may not always be made the most prominent.
Such then is a brief and most imperfect sketch of the Christian walk, all perfectly summed up in the three words, “as He walked.” This is the best direction of all — “as He walked” — in righteousness (Isa. 53:1111He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)), goodness (Matt. 19:1616And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16)), truth (John 7:1818He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. (John 7:18)), lowliness (Matt. 11:2929Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29)), patience (Matt. 27:1414And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. (Matthew 27:14)), self denial (Matt. 8:2020And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20)), humility (Luke 22:2727For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:27)), obedience (John 4:3434Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (John 4:34)), compassion (Luke 19:4141And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, (Luke 19:41)), benevolence (Matt. 4:23, 2423And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 24And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. (Matthew 4:23‑24)), love (John 13:11Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)).
May the Lord exercise our hearts to a more godly, truthful, and lowly walk in view of the nearness of His return.