Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
First steps are always an event to be remembered. Every baby album is almost certain to have photographs of baby’s first attempt to walk. These same snapshots will also contain, likely as not, one or more parents with outstretched arms encouraging the child to come to him/her. If it is a video, there will also be words of encouragement to assure the tike that mommy and/or daddy is there to catch him if he stumbles. Got the picture? Well keep it in mind as we explore today’s focus text.
Paul wrote to believers, “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2.10-12). The operative word in the highlighted phrase is walk. It is a word which demands action and progress toward a goal. There is a similar verse we will review and then return to this passage.
Paul exhorted another group of Christians in this way: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…” (Ephesians 4.1). The same figure of speech is employed, but the emphasis is slightly different. In this passage, the walk is in the present, but the calling was in the past; it was a call that they had received (past tense). The need to walk in a worthy manner is the same; it does not imply that our walk deserves God’s grace and mercy, rather it implores us to walk in a manner consistent with our high calling. We don’t walk because we are worthy; we walk because God treats us as worthy!
Now return to the focus passage. Believers in Thessalonica are encouraged to walk in a worthy manner just as they were in Ephesus. However, note the tense of the verb call. The New King James translates the word calls, but the American Standard Version of 1901 correctly translates the word calleth. The word is a present active participle, meaning that the action is current and on-going. The picture is one of God presently and continually calling his children to walk toward Him. They don’t walk because they are worthy; they walk because He treats them as worthy. Much like the parent encouraging the toddler, God knows that there is a real danger that a stumble or even a fall will occur. In spite of this knowledge, He knows that as long as the child genuinely attempts to walk in a worthy manner, He will be there to catch us and set us back on the right path.
God has not called us to walk perfectly; He calls us to walk worthily. When John penned his first general epistle, this fact was obvious. In this short book, John wrote, “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.” (1 John 1.7). Note the all important conditional statement, “…if we walk in the light.” If we do that, John says, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The walk is present tense just like the cleansing is present tense. The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing as we keep on walking. That is not a perfect walk; that is a forgiven walk. That is not a perfect walk, it is a worthy walk.
The believer knows that it is not a question of whether we will sin or not, it is a question of when. After all, we all sin and fall short of God’s intentions for us. In the figure of the walk, sin is a misstep, a stumble, and/or a fall. The great news is that we have a loving Father who not only picks us up but keeps on encouraging us to walk toward and to Him!
1. What is the call spoken of in the focus text? How does God call us (see 2 Thessalonians 2.14)? Where does God’s word fit in all this?
2. What difference do you see in a God who called and a God who calls?
3. If we walk in the light according to 1 John 1.7, do we sin? What happens to those sins?
4. How important is it to you as a believer to see God as a loving and encouraging parent who is ready to step in at a moment’s notice to pick you up and to set things right in your spiritual life? Explain.
"Point of Reference" from
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