“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2).
Being a Christian does not mean living by a set of religious rules and regulations, but it is having a character and lifestyle that pleases God. This must include obedience and holiness in our daily lives. This is what the apostle Paul is referring to in these verses. The way we behave as believers is directly inline with our obedience to God’s word, and this is what pleases Him. What is urged and exhorted here is not optional but mandatory for the Christian life. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1) … “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk” (Ephesians 4:17) … “Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
The words ‘beseech’ and ‘exhort’ emphasise just how important it is for the believer to follow Christ in faith and holiness. Notice that Paul describes this as a commandment. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2) … “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). This is where the Christian takes his first step on the pathway of holiness, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). From that first step there must be progress and growth, for holiness is a process rather than an achievement.
Before man invented vehicles to transport him from one place to another, he walked. Walking is a natural thing to do. No wonder Scripture makes use of the term to describe a life that is in fellowship with God. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24) … “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) … “Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33) … “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Maybe we need to slow down and walk with God too. Dashing about does not give us time for prayer, reflection and meditation. Many believers think they can only please God if they are running from one spiritual activity to another, but one sure way of pleasing Him is by taking the time to fellowship with Him. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). The super-active believers may appear to be the strong ones, but soon enough they burn out. God sees this in a different way, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). We may always be in a hurry, but God is not. There is a time to soar with the eagles and run with the valiant, but let us never forget that walking with God is vital too.
The Christian life is never static if we are walking with the Lord. None of us have reached spiritual perfection, but we are growing towards it. A farmer is delighted to see an abundant crop, so too is God when His children grow in Christ. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). As we fellowship with Him, we being on good ground, grow in faith because of the rich resources God blesses us with. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). It is easy for us to become complacent and lethargic in our walk, therefore it is important to keep our focus on where and how the Lord is leading us. This way we may be able to fulfil the purpose God intends for us. “It is not enough to have faith, even so as to please God, unless we abound more and more therein” (John Wesley).
Living a life that pleases God ought to be the objective of every truly born again believer. If we do not please God, how can we effectively serve Him? “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8) … “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).