I remember when each of my sons took their first steps. Like most parents, we desperately wanted to see our kids take them. We were so excited.
Once they started walking, though, we sometimes wished we had never taught them how to do it, because we had to constantly keep an eye on them.
My youngest son Jonathan fell so many times when he was learning to walk that he had a permanent bruise on his forehead. A bruise would start to heal, and then he would fall again. He had bruises on top of bruises. We didn’t recognize him without that bruise in the middle of his forehead.
The spiritual walk can be like that, especially when we are taking our first steps as a new believer. We stumble and fall. We get up. Then we stumble and fall again. It is all part of growing spiritually.
In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul speaks to us about our spiritual walk, about how to walk spiritually.
Walking is an act that speaks of effort and of having a direction with a destination in mind. It speaks of steady motion, regularity, consistency, activity, movement, and progress. In Ephesians 4, God is telling us that it is time for us to walk in light of what we have already learned.
Prior to these verses, Paul has spent three chapters telling us what God has done for us, what God has given to us, and what God has provided for us. He has reminded us that we were all separated from God, alienated from His promises.
We were aimlessly walking through life with no purpose or direction, heading toward a certain judgment. But God loved us so much that He chose us before the foundation of the world.
Then He redeemed us. He bought us out of slavery to sin, adopted us into His family, and sealed us with the Holy Spirit.
If that were not enough, He then placed all of His resources into our spiritual bank account so that we would have everything that we need to grow spiritually.
In Ephesians 4, we learn more about what we are supposed to do for God. Notice the order. First, Paul tells us what God has done for us (as you read the Bible, you will find that the primary emphasis is just that). Then he tells us what we must do for God.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1 NKJV).
We may read that verse and think, “I am in trouble. How could I ever be worthy? There is nothing I could ever do to deserve God’s grace.” But that is not what the word “worthy” means here.
This word could be translated as, “to balance the scales.” In other words, what is on one side of the scale should be equal in weight to what is on the other side of the scale. This word can be applied to anything that is expected to correspond to something else. Another way to translate it is, “I want you to live a balanced life.”
But what is the balance he is referring to? Paul was telling us that there needs to be a balance between our belief and our practice, between our doctrine and the way that we live. The two need to go together.
Some people are lopsided. They may be strong in one area and weak in another. I have met people who have an incredible and impressive knowledge of the Bible. They know Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. They dazzle you with what they know. But their personal life is in shambles.
The problem is that they are imbalanced. They have the knowledge. They have the doctrine. But their life is out of balance.
Then there are those who don’t know much doctrinally. They don’t really know what the Bible teaches on certain subjects, but they love the Lord. They are passionate about their faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, you might hear them say something like, “Let’s not quibble over doctrine. I just love Jesus.”
That sounds admirable, but it is a dangerous statement. If they are not careful, they might end up loving the wrong Jesus. They might end up believing the wrong gospel, and that is where doctrine comes in.
We need the balance of having both of these areas working together. That is what it means to walk worthy of the Lord.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.