Will You Walk With God?
“Be modest in walking with your God.”—MICAH 6:8.
1, 2. How might Jehovah’s feelings toward us be compared to those of a parent teaching a child to walk?
A BABY, standing on wobbly legs, reaches toward a parent’s outstretched arms and takes its first few steps. It may seem a small thing, but to the mother and father, it is a milestone, a moment full of promise for the future. The parents eagerly look forward to walking with their child, hand in hand, in the months and years to come. In many ways, they hope to provide the child with guidance and support far into the future.
2 Jehovah God has similar feelings toward his earthly children. He once said regarding his people Israel, or Ephraim: “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them upon my arms . . . With the ropes of earthling man I kept drawing them, with the cords of love.” (Hosea 11:3, 4) Jehovah here describes himself as a loving parent who is patiently teaching a child to walk, perhaps taking him into His arms when he falls. Jehovah, the ultimate Parent, is eager to teach us how to walk. He also delights in accompanying us as we continue to make progress. As our theme text shows, we can walk with God! (Micah 6:8) But what does it mean to walk with God? Why do we need to do so? How is it possible? And what blessings come from walking with God? Let us consider these four questions one at a time.
What Does It Mean to Walk With God?
3, 4. (a) What is remarkable about the word picture of walking with God? (b) What does it mean to walk with God?
3 Of course, a flesh-and-blood human cannot literally take a walk with Jehovah, a spirit being. (Exodus 33:20; John 4:24) So when the Bible speaks of humans walking with God, it uses figurative language. It paints a remarkable word picture, one that rises above national and cultural boundaries and that even transcends time. After all, in what place or era would people be unable to grasp the concept of one person walking in company with another? This word picture conveys warmth and closeness, does it not? Such feelings give us some insight into what it means to walk with God. Let us be more specific, though.
4 Remember the faithful men Enoch and Noah. Why are they described as walking with God? (Genesis 5:24; 6:9) In the Bible, the term “to walk” often means to follow a certain course of action. Enoch and Noah chose a course in life that was in harmony with the will of Jehovah God. Unlike those in the world around them, they looked to Jehovah for guidance and obeyed his direction. They trusted in him. Does this mean that Jehovah made their decisions for them? No. Jehovah has given humans free will, and he wants us to use that gift along with our own “power of reason.” (Romans 12:1) As we make decisions, however, we humbly allow our power of reason to be guided by Jehovah’s infinitely superior mind. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Isaiah 55:8, 9) In effect, as we walk through life, we take that journey in close company with Jehovah.
5. Why did Jesus speak of adding a cubit to one’s life span?
5 The Bible often likens life to a journey or a walk. In some cases, that comparison is direct, but in other cases, it is implied. For instance, Jesus said: “Who of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his life span?” (Matthew 6:27) Something about those words may strike you as puzzling. Why would Jesus speak of adding “one cubit,” which is a measure of distance, to a person’s “life span,” which is measured in terms of time?a Jesus was evidently picturing life as a journey. In effect, he taught that worrying will not help you to add even a small step to the walk of your life. Should we conclude, though, that there is nothing we can do about the length of that walk? Far from it! That brings us to our second question, Why do we need to walk with God?
Why Do We Need to Walk With God?
6, 7. Imperfect humans have what desperate need, and why do we do well to turn to Jehovah to fill that need?
6 One reason why we need to walk with Jehovah God is explained at Jeremiah 10:23: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” So we humans have neither the ability nor the right to direct our own life course. We are in desperate need of guidance. Those who insist on going their own way, independent of God, make the same mistake that Adam and Eve made. The first pair assumed the right to determine for themselves what is good and what is bad. (Genesis 3:1-6) That right simply “does not belong” to us.
7 Do you not feel the need for guidance on life’s journey? Every day, we face decisions small and great. Some of these are difficult and can affect our future—as well as that of our loved ones. Just think, though, that someone infinitely older and wiser than we are is happy to give us loving guidance in making those decisions! Sadly, most people today prefer to trust their own judgment and guide their own steps. They ignore the truth stated at Proverbs 28:26: “He that is trusting in his own heart is stupid, but he that is walking in wisdom is the one that will escape.” Jehovah wants us to escape the disasters that result from trusting the treacherous human heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) He wants us to walk in wisdom, to trust in him as our wise Guide and Instructor. When we do, our walk in life is secure, satisfying, and fulfilling.
8. Sin and imperfection naturally lead humans to what destination, yet what does Jehovah want for us?
8 Another reason why we need to walk with God involves the length of the walk we want to take. The Bible states a grim truth. In a sense, all imperfect humans are walking toward the same destination. In describing the trials that come with old age, Ecclesiastes 12:5 says: “Man is walking to his long-lasting house and the wailers have marched around in the street.” What is this “long-lasting house”? The grave, where sin and imperfection naturally take us. (Romans 6:23) However, Jehovah wants more for us than a short, troubled walk from cradle to grave. (Job 14:1) Only by walking with God can we hope to walk for as long as we were meant to walk—forever. Is that not what you want? Clearly, then, you need to walk with your Father.
How Can We Walk With God?
9. Why was Jehovah at times hidden from his people, yet what assurance did he provide according to Isaiah 30:20?
9 The third question in our consideration deserves our most careful attention. It is, How can we walk with God? We find the answer at Isaiah 30:20, 21: “Your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and your eyes must become eyes seeing your Grand Instructor. And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.” In this encouraging passage, Jehovah’s words recorded in Isa 30 verse 20 may have reminded his people that when they rebelled against him, he was, in effect, hidden from them. (Isaiah 1:15; 59:2) Here, though, Jehovah is represented, not as hiding, but as standing openly before his faithful people. We might think of an instructor standing before his students, demonstrating what he wants them to learn.
10. In what sense may you “hear a word behind you” from your Grand Instructor?
10 In Isa 30 verse 21, a different word picture is painted. Jehovah is depicted as walking behind his people, issuing directions on the right way to walk. Bible scholars have noted that this expression might be based on the way a shepherd sometimes follows his sheep, calling out to guide them and to keep them from going the wrong way. How does this word picture apply to us? Well, when we turn to God’s Word for guidance, we are reading words that were recorded thousands of years ago. They are coming from behind us, as it were, in the stream of time. Yet, they are just as relevant today as they were the day they were written. Bible counsel can guide us in our day-to-day decisions, and it can help us to map out the course of our life over the years to come. (Psalm 119:105) When we earnestly seek out such counsel and apply it, then Jehovah is our Guide. We are walking with God.
11. According to Jeremiah 6:16, Jehovah painted what inviting word picture for his people, but how did they respond?
11 Are we really allowing God’s Word to guide us that closely? It is worthwhile to pause at times and examine ourselves honestly. Consider a verse that will help us to do so: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Stand still in the ways, you people, and see, and ask for the roadways of long ago, where, now, the good way is; and walk in it, and find ease for your souls.’” (Jeremiah 6:16) These words might remind us of a traveler who pauses at a crossroads to ask for directions. In a spiritual sense, Jehovah’s rebellious people in Israel needed to do something similar. They needed to find their way back to “the roadways of long ago.” That “good way” was the way in which their faithful forefathers had walked, the way from which the nation had foolishly strayed. Sadly, Israel responded stubbornly to this loving reminder from Jehovah. The same verse continues: “But they kept saying: ‘We are not going to walk.’” In modern times, though, God’s people have responded differently to such counsel.
12, 13. (a) How have Christ’s anointed followers responded to the counsel of Jeremiah 6:16? (b) How might we examine ourselves regarding the way we are walking today?
12 Since late in the 19th century, Christ’s anointed followers have applied the counsel of Jeremiah 6:16 to themselves. As a class, they have led the way in a wholehearted return to “the roadways of long ago.” Unlike apostate Christendom, they have faithfully adhered to “the pattern of healthful words” that was established by Jesus Christ and upheld by his faithful followers back in the first century C.E. (2 Timothy 1:13) To this day, the anointed help one another as well as their “other sheep” companions to pursue the healthful, happy way of life that Christendom has abandoned.—John 10:16.
13 By providing spiritual food at the proper time, the faithful slave class has helped millions to find “the roadways of long ago” and to walk with God. (Matthew 24:45-47) Are you among those millions? If so, what can you do to avoid drifting away, turning to follow your own course? It is wise to stop periodically and examine the way you are walking in life. If you faithfully read the Bible and Bible-based publications and attend the programs of instruction sponsored by the anointed today, then you are being trained to walk with God. And when you humbly apply the counsel you are given, you are indeed walking with God, following “the roadways of long ago.”
Walk as Though “Seeing the One Who Is Invisible”
14. If Jehovah is real to us, how will that be reflected in the personal decisions that we make?
14 For us to walk with Jehovah, he must be real to us. Remember, Jehovah assured faithful ones in ancient Israel that he was not hidden from them. Today, he likewise reveals himself to his people as the Grand Instructor. Is Jehovah that real to you, as though he were standing before you to instruct you? That is the kind of faith we need if we are to walk with God. Moses had such faith, “for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) If Jehovah is real to us, then we will take his feelings into account when we make decisions. For example, we would not even consider engaging in wrongdoing and then try to hide our sins from Christian elders or family members. Rather, we endeavor to walk with God even when no fellow human can see us. Like King David of old, we resolve: “I shall walk about in the integrity of my heart inside my house.”—Psalm 101:2.
15. How will associating with our Christian brothers and sisters help us to see Jehovah as real?
15 Jehovah understands that we are imperfect, fleshly creatures and that we may at times find it a challenge to believe in what we cannot see. (Psalm 103:14) He does much to help us overcome such weakness. For example, he has gathered together “a people for his name” from all the nations of the earth. (Acts 15:14) As we unitedly serve together, we draw strength from one another. Hearing how Jehovah has helped a spiritual brother or sister overcome some weakness or pass some difficult test makes our God even more real to us.—1 Peter 5:9.
16. How will learning about Jesus help us to walk with God?
16 Above all, Jehovah has given us the example of his Son. Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Studying Jesus’ life course on earth is one of the best ways to make Jehovah more real to us. Everything that Jesus said or did was a perfect reflection of his heavenly Father’s personality and ways. (John 14:9) As we make decisions, we need to think carefully about how Jesus would handle matters. When our decisions reflect such careful and prayerful thought, then we are following in Christ’s footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21) As a result, we are walking with God.
What Blessings Result?
17. If we walk in Jehovah’s way, what “ease” will we find for our souls?
17 To walk with Jehovah God is to lead a blessed life. Remember what Jehovah promised his people about seeking out “the good way.” He said: “Walk in it, and find ease for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) What does that “ease” mean? An easy life that is filled with pleasures and luxuries? No. Jehovah provides something far better, something that the wealthiest among mankind rarely find. To find ease for your soul is to find inner peace, joy, satisfaction, and spiritual fulfillment. Such ease means that you can be confident that you have chosen the best path in life. Such peace of mind is a rare blessing in this hard world!
18. What blessing does Jehovah want to bestow upon you, and what is your resolve?
18 Of course, life itself is a great blessing. Even a short walk is better than no walk at all. However, Jehovah never meant for your walk to consist of merely a brief trip from the vigor of youth to the pain of old age. No, Jehovah wants you to have the greatest blessing of all. He wants you to walk with him forever! This is well-expressed at Micah 4:5: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” Will you take hold of that blessing? Will you live what Jehovah invitingly calls “the real life”? (1 Timothy 6:19) By all means, then, make it your resolve to walk with Jehovah today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter on into eternity!
a Some Bible translations change the “cubit” in this verse to a measurement of time, as in “one moment” (The Emphatic Diaglott) or “a single minute” (A Translation in the Language of the People, by Charles B. Williams). However, the word used in the original text definitely means a cubit, which was about 18 inches [45 cm] in length.
How Would You Answer?
• What does it mean to walk with God?
• Why do you feel a need to walk with God?
• What will help you to walk with God?
• What blessings come to those who walk with God?
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Through the pages of the Bible, we hear Jehovah’s voice behind us say, “This is the way”
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At meetings, we receive spiritual food at the proper time