When I first started exercising, I didn't do any running. Instead, I started walking. I would walk for a half mile. Then I upped that to a mile. Eventually I could walk three miles without stopping. Then I began adding running into my walks. I'll never forget the first time I ran a mile without stopping. I was in Hawaii, and I ran down Kaleheo Ave., a street I often traversed on bicycle during my childhood. It felt like I had just won the Olympic Marathon.
Even though I mostly run these days, I realize that running isn't for everybody. No problem. There are many other ways to become fit and healthy. Walking is one of them.
This morning in my Bible reading I was in Ephesians. Along with my Greek, I had Harold Hoehner's magisterial commentary at my fingertips. I love how he outlines the second half of Ephesians:
Walk in Unity (4:1-16)
Walk in Holiness (4:17-32)
Walk in Love (5:1-6)
Walk in Light (5:7-14)
Walk in Wisdom (5:15-6:9)
Stand in Warfare (6:10-20)
As everyone knows, the imperative is used only once in the first three chapters of Ephesians but 40 times in the last three. This shouldn't surprise us, because Paul "consistently presents doctrine first as a basis for the practice on which he later expounds" (Hoehner, p. 499). Stott (Ephesians, p. 146) says that in 4:1 Paul "turns from exposition to exhortation, from what God has done (in the indicative) to what we must be and do (in the imperative), from doctrine to duty, ... from mind-stretching theology to its down-to-earth, concrete implications to everyday living."
As a father and grandfather, I often think about how I can apply the biblical truths I am studying to my family life. In the opening section of Ephesians 4, Paul sets forth a life worthy of our calling. He calls this our "walk." This walk is characterized by 5 qualities: humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love. To be humble is to recognize the worth of others. Pride lurks behind every family squabble. Meekness isn't weakness; it's "the absence of the disposition to assert personal rights" (Stott, p. 149). To be patient is to be long-suffering when aggravated, and to be forbearing is to exercise mutual tolerance. Finally, Paul says we are to do all this "in love," for "love is the crown and sum of all virtue" (Stott, p. 149).
As a dad and granddad, it isn't enough to know about these 5 qualities. I must continually devote myself to them. Will there be challenges? Absolutely! The adversary will stop at nothing to sow discord in your family. You can count on it. I have discovered, however, both by experience and by an examination of the Scriptures (including this passage), that as parents we need to set the tone.
How about you, dad (or mom)? Do your kids see in you humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love? Do they see honesty mixed with conviction? That's how we learn to grown in grace with one another in our homes. All parents (and children) make bad mistakes. The question is: Have we learned from them?
This very day, my family needs that kind of quiet modesty and availability in their dad. My dedication to the word of God is not to be rooted just in the reading of it or the teaching of it but in living it.
Friend, don't let really intimate loving relationships become the last item on your to-do list today. Maybe it's time for that drive across town or that cross-country flight or that email or that text message. The Great Commission is the purpose of the church, and it's to be lived out in our daily walk with the Lord.