Learning How to Walk

“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
On my first preaching trek into the mountain villages of Nepal’s Rasuwa district, I was accompanied by two Kathmandu preachers and one Tamang mountain preacher, who also worked as a porter during trekking season. The first afternoon we walked from Dunche to Syrabru Bensi (about fifteen kilometers, or nine miles), which involved a climb of about 1500 feet to the top of one ridge, then a descent of 2500 or so to “Sy’bru.” I was eager to demonstrate my ability to handle the steep and somewhat rugged going, so one of the city preachers and I concentrated on our walking and forged ahead as the other two seemed more interested in their conversation and lagged behind. Because of the elevation involved and the steepness of the hills, our trail switched back and forth up and down the mountains so that we would reverse directions frequently. Several hours passed, and we had not seen our companions for a long time so that I was considering stopping and waiting for them. As we rounded one of the switchbacks however, I was surprised to see our friends sitting and waiting for us. The mountaineer had not stuck to the established path as we had, but had taken shortcuts straight down the mountain and cut much distance (and time) from their trip. I knew that I could walk in the mountains, but he knew much more about just how and where to walk in them to save time and energy.
We all live or walk in this earth. But some live much more successfully and enjoyably than others. To many, life is difficult, unproductive, and even miserable. Some are natural victims, always being exploited and manipulated by others. Some are weathervanes, being blown by prevailing breezes, with no real purpose or force of their own. Some are dominated by evil influences, seeking prosperity or pleasure through sinful and criminal methods, and often paying the price in imprisonment and disgrace. Life does not have to be lived negatively, however. There are ways to walk which result in success, contentment, and eternal security.
The first requirement for a positive walk is that we seek to please God. He is our maker, to whom we owe our existence and to whom we belong. God has every right to rule over us. This earth and all that is in it belongs to him (Acts 17:24). But his rule is benevolent, always to our benefit (Acts 14:17). He teaches us how to live so that we receive maximum satisfaction: “… That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2,3). While pleasing God, we follow his instructions and receive his blessings.
A second component of a good walk is to avoid sin and live a pure and holy life. Sins like adultery and fornication are to be avoided (1 Thessalonians 4:3), as are theft, murder, lying, hatred, envy, gossip, and others (1 Corinthians 6:9,10; Ephesians 5:3-5). It is not only that such acts offend God, but also that they are essentially harmful to oneself and to others. Good, happy, and productive lives cannot be built with such ingredients. They are destructive and will not achieve success.
Finally, we learn that a good walk comes from a correct ambition. “… Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands …” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Too often, those whose primary goal is wealth, power, or fame find that success does not satisfy. Depression, addictions, and even suicide occur too frequently among the most successful for us to not recognize that these goals are inadequate by themselves. It is far better to seek first to please God, then to allow him to bless us with whatever material success he sees fit. Solomon sought only to know how to lead his people well (1 Kings 3:5-9), and thus pleased God. Because his request was pleasing to God, he was also given wealth, fame, and long life. These were not his primary objectives, but rather a result of his having set proper priorities. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

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