At its simplest level, it means to behave, over the course of time, in a manner that is consistent with our ideals.
Where do our ideals come from? Do we simply make them up on our own like the slogan from the 1970’s “if it feels good, do it”? Typically, ideals come from one or more foundational sources like laws, regulations, creeds and codes.
For Boy Scouts, it means living with “scout spirit” or acting in a manner consistent with scouting ideals (i.e. Oath, Law, Motto, Slogan, Outdoor Code) as situations arise each day.
The origin of the phrase “to walk worthy” (or as some purists might say “to walk worthily”) actually comes from the Bible and can be found in several places throughout the New Testament. This is where I get my ideals as a Christian.
According to an article (Click Here)1 by Pastor John Piper;
The Greek adverb, aksiws, is translated “worthy of” in all six of its New Testament uses in the New American Standard Bible. Five of those uses refer to our acting “worthy of God” or the gospel or our heavenly calling.
The five scriptures that use the phrase include:
- Ephesians 4:1, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
- Philippians 1:27, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
- Colossians 1:10, “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
- Thessalonians 2:12, “Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
- 3 John 1:6, “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”
The citation found in Colossians chapter one, verse ten was selected as the basis of the Motto of Trail Life USA.
In this section of the Bible, we find the author of a letter (the Apostle Paul) to the church at Colossae. The opening of the letter includes his greetings to the church members and a prayer on their behalf.
Paul had heard that the people at that church were good folks, following Christ’s teachings, and he prayed that they might be even stronger in their faith practices. Specifically, that they’d “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
Why do we need to be filled with knowledge? So that we will behave in a manner consisted with being fully aware of our duties, responsibilities, roles and relationships. That we might not trip and stumble along the trail blindly, but walk with purposeful strides and accomplish much that pleases God and demonstrates love to those people we meet along the trail.
As Christians, our ideals come from the Bible and we typically spend a great deal of time reading, pondering and learning more about the instructions found in the Bible. This is one of the reasons why the new Trail Life USA program has faith interwoven throughout the curriculum AND supplementary curriculum designed to help youth learn more about God (Ps 1:1-3; Tim 3:14-17; Ps 119:105; Isaiah 55:11; Rom 10:17; Ps 119:9; Joshua 1:8, et.al.)
To walk worthy of the ideals found in the Bible is a high calling and we’re not perfect – we may stumble and fall from time to time, but we’re enabled to get up and keep trying (Rom 15:4) We’re also called to encourage one another along the trail, too. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11; Eph 4:29; Rom 15:1-7)
In referring back to the article by Pastor Piper, I was reminded that
…Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” So the call to walk “worthy of the Lord” is at least a call to walk by faith.
But faith looks away from itself to the worth and ability and grace and strength of another. So walking “worthy of the Lord” would mean acting in a way that shows how worthy and able and gracious and strong the Lord is.
This struggle to walk worthy isn’t what saves us from God’s judgment – He’s already demonstrated His love toward us in providing a means of salvation through His grace – but we are called to live a life which demonstrates gratitude towards Him and shares His good news boldly with those who don’t have salvation (Ephesians 6:19; Mark 16:15; Rom 10:13-17).
So the ideals that we hold as our standard for “walking worthy” stem from learning all about God through His word. Walking worthy of those instructions comes from a proper sense of gratitude for His love, grace and mercy which has been demonstrated to us in the most precious of ways.