“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” – Ephesians 4:1
“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:10
This word worthy is used to mean “as if you deserve it”. So, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” boils down to: you have received God and His gift and now walk as if you deserve it.
As Christians we know that what we deserve is death because of our sin (Romans 6:23) and that the eternal life which we have received is not because we deserve it, but rather because God has gifted it to us (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is the basic Gospel message. And so we know that do not deserve what we have. Yet, we should live in such a way that we are worthy of what we have been given.
This may confuse you slightly. How are we, who are so unworthy, supposed to walk as if we are worthy? Well, the Bible never uses phrases like “try and…” or “do your best to…”. God tells us what we should ultimately be like so that we never stop at what we think is “good enough”.
Let me illustrate this for you: I play the flute. In March 2016 I will have been playing the flute for eight years, enough time to play decently and to have completed several levels in musical education. But, I haven’t always been a flautist with eight years of experience. When I was 12 years old and had only been playing for about a year, my teacher placed a piece of music in front of me and said “play it”. I gawked at her because the music in front of me was unlike anything I had seen before but realised that she was serious so I put my flute to my lips and started to play. It didn’t take very long before I was in tears and feeling completely and utterly defeated. I thought that maybe I was a failure of a musician and should just give up right then. My teacher whipped the music away and said to me “that was a grade eight level piece [at this stage I hadn’t even completed an exam so I was maybe at grade one or grade two level] I just wanted to know how far you would go to meet my expectations for you”.
There was no way I could have played that piece properly. The expectation was far too high for right then but it was a goal that I could aim for. But notice that my teacher didn’t say to me “I want you to try and play this piece” or “I want you to play the first two bars because this piece is really difficult”. She set up the entire piece as the expectation. And when I failed, she gave me a hug and helped me back on track and kept working with me (and I can now play the piece). This is kind of how God works.
You see, if my teacher had said “just play two bars” then I could have achieved that through good practice and felt like I was a genius because I could play two bars of such a complicated piece. We as humans try this method all the time. “Well you know, I’m a pretty good person, I’ve never murdered anybody and I go to church every Sunday.” We do just enough and then think we are amazing. And while I am not saying that you shouldn’t take small steps and work your way to certain goals or levels, we should never settle for just two bars. And God never gives us that option.
Think about the things God tells us to do:
“Be Holy as I am Holy” – 1 Peter 1:16. Not, “start by trying to be as holy as … and then move up to …”. He sets the bar with “Me, yes the almighty and perfect God of the universe, I want you to be like I am”.
“Pray without ceasing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Not, “start by praying once a day, and then twice…”. God says “All the time, I want you to be consumed with me and talking to me without stopping”.
Are you understanding how this works? God wants us to work towards perfection and to never stop until we get there. And no this doesn’t mean that if you are always messing up and can never get it right that God has given up on you. He wants progress and He understands that you are human, He just wants to make sure that you never stop moving in that direction. God says “walk in a manner” not “stand in a manner”. It is a continual process of moving and growing, not just a place that you are.
So in everything we do, our goal should be to walk as if we deserve what we have. How can we do this? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, our authors have been giving you a lot of ideas this month. Worthy walking includes walking in prayer, in light, by faith, in love, in the newness of life, properly, in truth, as Christ walked, in the Spirit, and in wisdom.
The walk we have is a long one. There is no “quick fix” solution or smaller goal to work towards. It took me a really long time to get to the point where I could play the complicated piece that my teacher gave me. In the same way, we have to spend a long time working on walking in a worthy manner. But keep working towards that ultimate goal that Christ has set for us. It’s worth it.