Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Walk With God

In all of scripture, I find only two men of whom it is said that they "walked with God." Of Enoch we read

And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him (Genesis 5: 22 - 24).

And one chapter later we read of Noah that

These [are] the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God (Genesis 6: 9).

I'm not certain which is more startling. On the one hand, after only 6 chapters, out of 1,189 chapters in the Bible, we've read of every man that God says walked with Him. On the other hand, we didn't read of a single example of such a man for the first 4 chapters.

Think about that for a moment. Surely if anyone walked with God it was Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve communed with God in the Garden, in His physical presence. They are the only men who've ever seen God face to face. Still, God never says that either Adam or Eve walked with Him.

But of all the men of God told of in scripture, I can find no others that God says walked with Him. Scripture tells us that Abraham had great faith, and that it was counted to him as righteousness, but not once do we read that Abraham walked with God. David, Solomon, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Boaz, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, ... pick any  man of God you like. Save Enoch and Noah, God never says that any of them walked with Him. Even Job, whom God tells us was perfect and upright (Job 1: 1), is never said to have walked with God.

This is most curious, given that it is God's stated desire that we should walk with Him.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, [and] bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, [or] with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, the fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6: 6 - 8)?

Too many believe that "getting right with God" is about what they do, instead of what God does. Whether it's offering sacrifices, or doing good works, or just trying not to sin, too many believe that reconciliation with God has something to do with their own efforts. But clearly, what God explicitly desires of each of us, is that we be just, love mercy, and walk with Him.

To be just and to love mercy can be summed up in Jesus' commandments to love God above all others, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, He said that in these things are all of God's law fulfilled. 

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22: 37 - 40).

But what does it mean, to "walk with Him?" I suspect that most Christians would struggle to answer. I fear that most, when pressed, would try to explain it as some kind of metaphor for being good, for trying not to sin or trying to do good works. I doubt that many would even consider that it might be meant literally, not physically mind you, but literally nonetheless.

I am afraid that this is yet another of those wonderful sounding phrases that we accept because we've heard it all of our lives, but we don't really understand what it actually means. Like the phrase, "sanctify God in your heart," it just sounds sort of Bibley (pronounced By' · buh · lee), so we accept it without ever deliberating what it really means.

So let's you and I rectify this today. Let's answer the question and learn what it means to walk with God.

I recall a preacher asking his congregation, long ago during a Sunday morning sermon, how they would behave differently if the Lord walked through the doors and into the sanctuary. I remember that he asked if they'd continue napping, or would they stay a bit more alert. I remember he asked if they'd still have chosen the five dollar bill for the offering plate, or would they have chosen the twenty. Or, would they have written a check? I remember he asked how such an event would affect the behavior of those who weren't there, whether they'd have still gone fishing or would they have made a point to be there. But mostly I remember thinking to myself, "I wonder how it will affect their behavior if they ever realize that He's already here?"

We all know that God is omnipresent. But we seem to forget that He's always with us because He is everywhere. It's been said in jest, "Where ever you go, there you are." Well, with God it is literally true, not physically but literally nonetheless, that where ever you go, He is there too. And the first step, if you'll pardon the pun, in walking with God is to remember this simple truth at all times. Know that where ever you are, God is there with you.

Bearing this in mind, read 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18).

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is]. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5: 15 - 20).

With only three words, I Thessalonians 5: 17 is a very succinct verse. "Pray without ceasing." Surely this is hyperbole, right? No one can pray all the time. Sometimes you have to stop praying to answer the phone or buy groceries or go to work. Sometimes other people ask you questions and it would be rude to just ignore them. So no one can really pray all the time, can they?

Ah! But that is not what "pray without ceasing" means.

There are times when formal prayers are appropriate. But when you say a formal prayer you begin by addressing the Lord, you state your petition, and then you "sign off" in Jesus' name with a final "Amen." That is praying with cessation. It's sort of like talking to someone long distance. Eventually, you hang up. But when you walk with God, your prayer never ends. There is never an "Amen." You don't necessarily continue talking, but you never "sign off" either. You never say "Over and Out." That is praying without ceasing. It's praying without ending.

Think about living with your spouse. When you're sitting in the living room watching television together, you don't talk to each other non-stop, but you're still watching television together. While you eat dinner together, you may not always be saying words to each other, but you're still eating together. Consequently, when you do speak, you don't say, "My Dearest Wife, Please pass the salt, when it's convenient of course. Thank you so very much. You're Loving Husband, Goodbye." You just say, "Please pass the salt," (with a degree of affectation of affection that probably reflects more about how long you've been married more than how much you love each other). You speak, or don't speak, not formally but naturally, casually, in the normal course of your life together, and that is the salient point. You are very much together. And even when you're not speaking, you're not ignoring each other.

Similarly, when you walk with God you are always with Him, constantly aware of His presence. You may not be saying words to Him all the time, but you are always with Him, and you never ignore Him. You are always aware of His very real, His literal albeit not physical, presence.

Now with that understanding in mind, and in light of Micah 6: 6 - 8, scroll back up and read  I Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18 and Ephesians 5: 15 - 20 again. These passages are describing disposition and demeanor, not deeds.

In summation, this is what walking with God means. Living your life in constant communion and fellowship with God. It's not a metaphor for being good, or doing good works or even for not sinning. Of course, when you are aware of God's presence, you will be far less likely to sin. Strange women are far less a temptation when you're with your wife, and sin's temptations are far less when you're with God. It gives one pause to wonder. How might history have been different if Adam had walked with God? Similarly, walking with God will lead you to be better, to do good works. Anyone whose ever raised a child, or been a child, knows that nothing can influence our behavior like the people around us. So if the person you're always with is God, then you will be influenced accordingly. But these are the consequences, not the meaning, of walking with God.