Righteous Expectations

The New Testament writers often use the word picture of “walking” to describe living the Christian life.  Paul exhorts us to “walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4), “walk according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:4), “walk in good works” (Eph 2:10), “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (Eph 4:1), “walk in love” (Eph 5:2), “walk as children of Light” (Eph 5:8), “walk as wise men and women” (Eph 5:15), “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10), and finally, “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (I Thess 2:12).  The Apostle John adds, “walk in the same manner as Christ walked” (I Jn 2:6) and “walk according to His commandments” (II Jn 1:6).  The Christian walk is summarized in Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

At the risk of presenting an ABC formula for living the Christian life, let me review some specific and practical steps for “walking in the Spirit”.  Step one:  set the expectation on righteousness, not sin.  The “walking” instructions of the New Testament are all positive commands to live basically according to the new nature we already possess.  And our righteous expectation of ourselves and others is the first step.

You may have heard the story of the fellow who volunteered as a substitute teacher for the kindergarten Sunday School class at the local church.  Upon arriving for his first day on the job, he encountered two boys wrestling each other rolling around on the floor.  As he tried to separate the miscreants, one of the boys recognized they had a new teacher.  The child stopped and announced to the volunteer, “Hi, my name is Billy and this is Freddy and we are a handful!”

Now how did this child know that he and his friend were a handful?  I doubt the five-year-olds came up with that expression themselves.  Obviously, some adult had informed them.  And just as obviously, Billy and Freddy were living into that expectation.  It may be a simple story but the connection with how we label ourselves and our fellow believers is a serious point.

What is the expectation for us?  In Ephesians 4:1, Paul instructs us to live according to our calling, according to the expectation of our calling.  Paul has just spent the first three chapters of Ephesians explaining our calling and then takes chapters four through six to show what living into that calling is like with “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (Eph 4:1) as the bridge that connects the calling to the walk.  What is our calling?  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10).  You were created for righteousness.

May I encourage you?  You were “created in Christ Jesus” for this, and you have what it takes inside to live into God’s righteous expectations.

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