Experts have said that walking can help keep you in good shape physically. Now, you won’t move as quickly as you would if you were running. But it’s a regulated motion that moves you forward gradually, slowly but surely.
That is a picture the Bible often uses to describe the Christian life. It’s walking with God.
And if we want to walk with God, then we must stay in harmony with him. We need to move the same direction that he moves.
The psalmist wrote: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalm 1:1–3 NLT).
Notice this psalm begins, “Oh, the joys. …” If we want to be happy, then we should follow the principles we find in this psalm.
Notice that it tells us not only what we ought to do in walking with God but also what we should not do. It points out what will encourage our walk with him, and it warns of things that will hinder our walk with him.
I remember hearing a new believer call in to a Christian radio station with a question: “What do Christians do for fun?” The caller explained that she once did a lot of things that she thought she shouldn’t do anymore. So, she was wondering what Christians did to have fun. That was a great question.
When I became a Christian, it changed everything about me. I had a completely different view of life. And I learned that a Christian can have more fun than any other people around.
Christians don’t need to be under the influence of something, because we’re in harmony with the God who made us. The barrier called sin that separated us from God has been removed. It’s like going from black and white into living color. Life changes.
Everything is different. God starts changing our outlook on life.
In fact, I think Christians can look at a beautiful sunset and enjoy it more than anyone else. We don’t worship the creation, but we know the Creator who gave it to us. The Bible says that God “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 16:17 NLT). As a Christian, I can appreciate the simple things in life and find pleasure and fulfillment, not because I’m looking to those things, but because I’m looking to God.
Walking with God means that we avoid the things that will hurt us spiritually. And not only are there things that will build us up, but there are also things that will tear us down.
When it comes to identifying what those things are, we can ask ourselves three questions: 1) Does it build me up spiritually? 2) Does it bring me under its power? 3) Do I have an uneasy conscience about it?
The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23 NKJV). Another version puts it this way: “It may be perfectly legal, but it may not be best and helpful” (TLB).
We want to look for the things that will increase our spiritual appetite, not the things that will diminish it. We should avoid anything that would tear us down spiritually, pull us away from the people of God, or take the edge off our desire for prayer and Bible study.
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Of course, it is possible for some Christians to have the freedom to do certain things that may not be as detrimental to them as they may be to someone else. But the Bible also tells us not to do something that would cause someone else to stumble. That’s an important consideration.
Romans 14:23 says, “If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning” (NLT). Don’t try to rationalize it; just don’t do it.
But it’s not enough to just avoid doing the wrong things. We also need to do the right things, because if you are not moving forward spiritually, then you will start regressing. The wise person not only avoids the bad things but goes after the good things and lives in relationship with God.
Psalm 1 says that the people who do this will be “like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (verse 3 NLT).
Our lives will find their proper balance as we’re walking with God as we ought to.
In contrast, the psalmist continues: “But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind” (verse 4 NLT). In other words, nonbelievers are at the mercy of forces they don’t see and cannot control. They are relentlessly driven and powerless against these forces, like chaff in the wind.
Again and again the Bible tells us that we need to walk with God. It’s something we need to commit ourselves to.
The Old Testament book of Amos gives us an important detail about walking with God: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (3:3 NLT). To walk with God means moving together as a single unit. It means that we want the same thing that he does. We are united toward the same goal and are putting our strength toward the same end.
That’s an amazing thing to think about. It means taking all our resources, which obviously are quite limited in comparison to God’s, and saying: “Lord, here’s what I have to bring. I bring my life, my personality, my time, and my future. I bring essentially everything I am. I give myself to you.”
But here’s the great deal. God essentially says: “OK, here’s what I bring to the table. I bring my omniscience, my unlimited power, and my grace. I bring all that I have.”
The Christian not only can live a life that is full and rich on this earth but also has the guarantee from God himself of life beyond the grave in a place called Heaven. God wants us to walk with him. He wants us to know him. He wants to reveal his plan for our lives.
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