The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a journey of ten million steps.
Day after day, and year after year, we put one foot in front of the other as we flee the wreckage of our sin and follow Jesus on the path of life. We step away from self-protection toward love, away from darkness toward light, away from foolishness toward wisdom. Step after step after step — ten million times.
But unless we stop every so often, and take a careful look backward and forward, our feet will gradually drift from God’s paths and stumble onto others. Like a hiker who never checks his compass, we’ll set out in the right direction and end up miles off the mark. Slowly, subtly, and perhaps imperceptibly, we’ll exit the narrow and hard path that leads to life and merge onto the wide and easy way to destruction (Matthew 7:13–14).
The new year is a time for course correction — a time for taking out the map, consulting the compass, and heeding Paul’s command to “look carefully . . . how you walk” (Ephesians 5:15).
In Ephesians, Paul commands his readers five times to “walk” — in good works, in a manner worthy of their calling, in love, in light, and in wisdom. As we consider three of Paul’s “walk” commands, take a look backward and forward: Where have you drifted off the path? What steps might you take this year, with God’s help, to follow Jesus down these hard but happy roads?
Walk in Love
For Jesus, love meant nails through his hands and feet and a spear through his side. Love meant climbing onto a cross and offering himself up as a sacrifice. Love meant inconvenience and sorrow and an excruciating death. This is the love that breathed life into our dead lungs (Ephesians 2:4–5); the love that is broader, longer, higher, and deeper than the galaxies (Ephesians 3:18–19); the love that is washing every stain of sin from our souls (Ephesians 5:25–27); the love that God commands us to imitate — even if our strongest love is a whisper compared to his symphony.
Therefore, walk in love — go low to lift others up. Spend your time with the lonely. Bend your body to bear burdens. Ransack your imagination to meet needs. Give your presence to the grieving. Fix your attention on the forgotten.
Such love will cost us, of course; we’ll have to relinquish handfuls of time and comfort and convenience. But in the end, Jesus knows how to repay everything you lose on the path of love, “Whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:8). Go low in love, and Christ himself will lift you up. Walk in love this year.
Walk in Light
When the light of Christ broke into your life and dispersed your constant midnight, he shone on you so that his light might make its home in you. The God of light made you a child of light — a little candle lit from the sun of Christ.
Therefore, walk in light — drive out the shadows from your soul. Train your tongue to heal others instead of cutting them up. Relish the deeper pleasure of purity instead of giving yourself over to sexual immorality. Grow in gratitude for all that God has given instead of stewing over all that he’s withheld. Ache for “all that is good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:9).
You can walk in these paths of light this year because you already are light in the Lord. The dark version of you died with Jesus at the cross, was laid with Jesus in the tomb — and will never rise again. Even if you feel like a smoldering wick right now, if you are in Christ, your destiny is to “shine like the sun in the kingdom of [your] Father” (Matthew 13:43). And that transformation will happen as you keep on stepping out of the shadows, repenting of the specific darkness that still grips you, confessing it to God and others, and shining the light of God’s word upon it. Walk in light this year.
Walk in Wisdom
Every path in this world cuts through our enemy’s backyard. We don’t yet walk in the safety of the new heavens and new earth; we walk in “the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4), an age where the devil stalks the earth with a quiver of burning arrows, his eyes keen for careless travelers (Ephesians 6:16). If we do not apply God’s wisdom to how we are walking in every area of life, the devil will be more than happy to chart the course for us.
Therefore, walk in wisdom — seize your days from the devil’s hand. Clutch onto every opportunity in your life, and turn it in a Godward direction. Make a plan for your marriage this year. Go to work on your parenting. Gauge the health of your friendships. In each of these areas of life (and every other), ask, In this part of my life, how can I live like Christ is precious, the gospel is powerful, the Spirit is inside me, and eternity is coming?
God has already broken the devil’s spell on you. He has already handed you a shield to extinguish his arrows and a sword to swing back (Ephesians 6:16–17). These days may be evil, but you don’t have to be — no part of your life has to be. With a lot of careful looking, and the Holy Spirit’s help, you can make the best use of these evil days. Walk in wisdom this year.
God’s City of Joy
One day soon, you will not need to look carefully to how you are walking. Perfect love will course through the veins of your resurrected body. The light of God’s righteousness will radiate from your every thought, word, and action. Unclouded wisdom will rest upon your immortal shoulders.
Until that day, 2018 is another year to “look carefully . . . how you walk” (Ephesians 5:15). Walk in love — go low to lift others up. Walk in light — drive the shadows from your soul. And walk in wisdom — seize your days from the devil’s hand. These are three roads that lead us to God’s city of joy, where our journey of ten million steps will finally end.