One of God’s favorite words, it seems to me, is the word “Walk”. If one simply made a list of all the ways God challenges us to walk in the Bible is would require a great deal of space. Many of these would be repetitive in that God often tells us to “Walk by faith” or “Walk in love”. Just in the Book of Ephesians he said we are created in Christ Jesus to walk in good works, walk in a manner worthy of our calling which involved an attitude and teaching that produced unity, to not walk as the Gentiles in futility of the mind, and to walk in love, in wisdom and in light. Always the idea is that these are to be a way of life and some translations change most of the uses of “walk” to “live”.
I want to focus on one that isn’t specifically commanded as a way to walk but is taught in multiple ways and that is walk in grace. There are at least two ways we desperately need to walk in grace in our efforts to be pleasing to God. The first is with regard to our relationship with God. There is no question that God wants us as his children to live in confidence of our salvation and relationship with Him. The primary theme of the Book of I John is on how we can know that we are right with the Lord. John actually offered many ways for one to know they are right with God and ready to face him in judgment. He said, “By this we can know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” He also declared that we could know by the Holy Spirit that is within us. He noted that if we walk in the the light of God he will keep us clean so we can be sure of our relationship with him. He even mentioned that our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ demonstrated our being right with God and if we claim to know him and don’t love our brothers and sisters we aren’t really right with him at all. One of the best examples of this confidence in our relationship with the Lord is Paul as he discusses his impending death in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. He said the that the time of his departure was near. He had fought the good fight, kept the faith and finished the course, therefore the crown of righteousness is laid up for him and not to him only, but to all those who love his appearing. Earlier he had said, “I know him in whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what he has committed to me against that day.”
God wants us all to know we are right with him. Yet it is extremely common to meet people who are trying all the time to live right and please God who have no real confidence in their own salvation. Why is that the case? Usually it isn’t any lack of faith or love for God. Instead it is because they have accepted the notion that I must somehow deserve salvation and heaven if I’m to be accepted in when this life is over. Now it is tragic when a person believes they are right with God when they aren’t living right at all. Jesus pictured those in Matthew 7:21-23 as saying “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name, in your name cast out demons and in your name done many wonderful works and then the Lord tells them, “I never knew you.” He said that it wasn’t those who said to him “Lord, Lord” but those who “Do the will of my father in heaven” who would be saved. As long as we depend on our own ability to do right and live up to God’s will in everything to have confidence in our salvation we will not have any real confidence. Our confidence needs to be in God and His grace, love and kindness through which we are saved, not in ourselves. If I could earn my way into glory I wouldn’t need grace or forgiveness or the blood of Christ constantly cleansing me of my sins. We are saved by grace, through faith and that not of ourselves. God’s grace doesn’t simply bring us to the point of salvation and leave us there to make it from there to glory on our own. Think of Jesus working with the twelve all through his ministry. They were failing him from day one to the day he ascended to the father. But his love and grace continued with them all the way. It does with us as well. Our challenge is to be faithful even to dying for the Lord, not be perfect and never mess us.
The Second part of walking in grace is in our relationships with other people. If I demand of myself complete perfection to be right with God, I will do exactly the same with everyone else. If I know I’m saved by grace I tend to demonstrate the same grace to others. People who are hard on themselves are hard on others and people who realize grace makes the way tend to be graceful to others. One of the worst tragedies among followers of Christ is when we see God as hard, judgmental and difficult to please, we become like that ourselves. But if we see God as merciful, full of grace and kindness toward us we tend to have the same heart toward others. Paul challenged the Ephesians to “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ sake has forgiven you.” If you walk in grace toward others you look for the good things in their life and ways to encourage and build them up in their service to God. There are all kinds of people out there ready to tear us down and tell us what all is wrong with us. The world needs people of grace who love us and reach out with compassion toward us no matter what we have done or what has happened to us. Jesus demonstrated just such a heart when he came as the friend of tax collectors and sinners. He came to help the sick and hurting not the healthy. If I walk in his footsteps I will be that person who loves the failure, the hurting and the struggling and not just those who seem to have it all together in life. Walk in grace and see the difference God can make in others lives through you.