I have always been intrigued with this phrase in the New Testament Letters; used five times by Paul and once by John: Eph 4:1, worthy of the calling; Phil 1:27, worthy of the gospel; Col 1:10, worthy of the Lord; 1 Thess 2:12, worthy of the God who calls; 2 Thess 1:11, worthy of his calling; 3 John 1:6, worthy of God.
“Walking worthy” does not focus on striving to deserve or earn the favor of God, but just the opposite. It means to live in such a way that is fitting or consistent with the gracious nature of God who called us and with the gospel that saved us. It not an encouragement to prove myself worthy (how could I ever do that?), but to live in keeping with the worth of all that God has given to me by his grace. When John the Baptist said, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:8) he meant that those who had received his baptism should live in such a way that was in keeping with their repentance.
Paul expands on this in 2 Thess 1:11, “that our God will make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”
So, as we walk in a worthy way, we should learn to cultivate those little pieces of fruit called “desires for goodness.” You can recognize them by the fact they would not be one of your normal desires apart from that fact that God’s Spirit dwells in you. “I want to love my wife more selflessly; I want to be a more responsible parent showing God as my priority and not my career; I want to be more generous and to share what God has given me; I desire to trust God in this situation and not be overwhelmed by fear.” We need to act upon these desires for they are evidence of the life that is worthy of God and that pleases him.
Also, as we walk in this worthy way, we need to cultivate those other pieces of fruit called “every deed prompted by faith.” These represent those actions or deeds done in faith simply from the motive of glorifying God.” Let me give you an example of what I think this means. Many years ago when most of my kids were still in high school and two of my boys were playing football, I was in my office looking through a brochure advertising Bibles and other Christian resources. I saw that a new sports Bible had just published containing not only the text of the New Testament, but also full page testimonies of Christian athletes scattered throughout the book. My very first thought was, “I want to buy these and pass them out to the football team at its end of the year banquet so these young guys will come to know Jesus.” I immediately ordered 85 copies so make sure they would arrive on time.
I knew this prompting was a deed of faith because it came out of nowhere and I didn’t stop to argue with myself. I just did it because it was the right thing to do and I knew it would honor the Lord. When the Bibles came I went to the football coach, whom I knew, gave him a copy and asked if I could make them available to any player who wanted one at the banquet. (By the way, he was also the assistant principal of the school.) He loved the idea, kept the Bible, and asked me to give the opening prayer at the dinner and explain the gift. And so I did—every player and coach took a Bible. The next year I did the same thing and was able to invite to the banquet (with the coach’s permission, of course) a young college athlete who went to my church. He was an All American football player from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst who was well known to the high school players. I asked him to present the Bibles and briefly share why he read the God’s Word everyday.
These were not earth shattering acts of faith, but I look back at them as examples of small pieces of fruit done in faith that were borne of my trying to walk worthy of the Lord. Fast forward to today: we are at a completely different stage of life and live in a new state and in a new neighborhood, but we still get these promptings of faith. We held a “socially-distant” Easter Sunrise Service in our driveway on Easter Sunday, and last Sunday we have invited our neighbors to an Ascension Sunday Service, also in our driveway. We have been asked by some of our neighbors to do this more often.
So, may you walk worthy of the Lord today; simply wanting to live life that is in keeping with the marvelous grace that he has bestowed on you…and watch for those promptings of faith and pay attention to those little pieces of fruit as they develop.
COMING SOON: Pilgrim’s Progress, part 2!