One of the most helpful things we can look for in our Bible reading is repetition - words or phrases that are repeated, especially within the same section or book. One such repeated word grabbed my attention this week as I was in the book of Ephesians. We hear the word “walk” numerous times, in ways like:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… (4:1)
And: ...you must no longer walk as the Gentile do, in the futility of their minds. (4:17)
And: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (5:15)
“Walk” is used a few other places in this letter, but here within a chapter and a half, Paul addresses how we walk three times. And one thing repetition can show us is emphasis - meaning, in this case, God cares about how you walk.
Now, one question we need to answer here is, “what does it mean to walk?” Your walk is your way of life. Very simply, it’s how we live. The idea is similar to what Paul saying in Philippians 1 when he charges his readers to let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. “Walk” in Ephesians and “manner of life” in Philippians convey the same idea here. And in both places, we see a specific emphasis on walking in a manner that is worthy - worthy of the calling to which we have been called, worthy of the gospel of Christ.
So then, how do we walk worthy? Well, we cannot walk worthy unless we get our lives in order. Let me explain what I mean by that, getting our lives in order (it doesn’t mean having a clean house!). If you’re pretty familiar with the book of Ephesians, you’ll notice it can be rather neatly divided into two halves, each with three chapters. The first three chapters are doctrine - statements of truth about God, the gospel, and people, with almost no commands or exhortations for living. And then Paul shifts with a “Therefore!”, “in light of the gospel!” and the next three chapters that are the opposite of the first three - they are filled with commands, exhortations, and guidelines for living. And this is not insignificant when it comes to ordering our lives and walking worthy.
Think about this with me. Why don’t we get all of these commands first in Ephesians? Why not commands to love our wives or be patient with our kids or to guard our speech or to forgive one another? It’s because the gospel orders our lives. We get news first. Good news. The good news about what God has done in Christ to reconcile sinners to Himself. And this is the same order we need in our lives every day.
We must put the gospel before us first. If we don’t, we are out of order. This call to walk worthy doesn’t mean that we need to commend our own worth to God every day. Trying to live like that - to commend yourself as deserving to God everyday - will crush you! Rather, we rightly order our lives by recognizing we are citizens of a different kingdom. And our job in how we walk, in our manner of life, is to live like the citizens God says we are. We live from an identity, not for one.
So we order our lives by first setting the gospel before us. By soaking our hearts and minds in our heavenly citizenship. By putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, rejoicing in Him, and dwelling on all that is true of us because we are in Him.
And once we’ve put first things first, once we have this order right, we start walking. We walk, as Paul says in Ephesians 2, in the good works that God has prepared for us beforehand that we should walk in them. We throw ourselves into obeying all of the commands and exhortations given to us in the Bible! And when we do this, we walk in a manner that is worthy.
So church, I urge you: walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Walk worthy.