Walking Worthy of God
Open Your Bible
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Luke 6:43-45, Hebrews 4:12
I’ve been a wannabe long-distance runner for the last decade or so—“wannabe” being the key word there. A few years ago, I decided to run a marathon: 26.2 miles. I loved it so much, but my knees did not. This conundrum led me to a physical therapist who watched me jog back and forth a few times in her office. She looked at me and said, “Your knees don’t point the right way.”
I looked down, and she was right! My kneecaps don’t point straight ahead. In fact, they point pretty far inward. If a laser beam were to be shot out from each of my knees, the beams would cross almost immediately, which is not ideal for long-distance running. When my gait was off, it threatened the integrity of my entire stride. It placed more strain on certain muscles, causing them to stretch in ways they were never intended to stretch. So, I bought new shoes with better orthotics, and I began the slow retraining process of running with my knees facing out.
When Paul talks in 1 Thessalonians 2 about “walk worthy of God,” he is diagnosing the church in Thessalonica. If the mechanics of their walk were off, their witness would be too. And so, like a good coach, he jumped in to show them the right way to walk. He tells them, “Like a father with his own children, we encouraged, comforted, and implored each of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (vv.11–12).
Paul gives the Thessalonians a template for walking worthy of God by reminding them of how he lived among them. He spoke “the gospel of God to them in spite of great opposition,” without “greedy,” self-seeking motives or “flattering,” empty words (vv.2,5). Paul did not seek his own glory, but walked with gentleness, looking after them like a nursing mother “nurtures her own children” (v.7).
Paul shared his whole life with the Thessalonians—not glimpses of his piety made to make him the hero. While with the Thessalonians, he conducted himself “devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly” (v.10). These words, in particular, strike me: “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (v.8).
Paul describes the joy of his missionary journey to Thessalonica not only in sharing the gospel, but in sharing life with his dear friends. He talks as much about his actions, demeanor, and motivations as he does his words. And perhaps that’s the goal to walk away with. Not walking “perfectly,” but walking together. Walking in the same direction, toward Jesus, with gentleness, humility, and community. We cannot walk worthy if we are always alone, but we can walk alongside those who lovingly correct our steps, reminding us of the finish line, and sharing in our burdens—not for their own glory, but for Christ’s.