Galatians 5:16 tells us to “walk in the Spirit” so that we do not gratify the
desires of the flesh. Then Paul goes on to explain the acts of the flesh as well as the fruits of the Spirit. But the words “walk in the Spirit” may not register with a new Christian.
What does it really mean?
I’ve understood it to mean – as Brother Lawrence taught many centuries ago – that we constantly remind ourselves of God’s presence in our lives. We walk, hand in hand, with the Spirit of God. Remembering that the Lord is with us throughout the day is a good deterrent to pursuing those things that are not healthy to our spiritual lives. So we spend the day talking and fellowshipping with God and listening for His voice.
This also is what I think Paul meant by “praying without ceasing”. We are in constant touch with the Lord in our daily activities, not just when we are in church or in need. It’s not easy to do, especially at first. In fact, Jesus’ disciples had to learn this skill themselves. It’s not something that comes naturally, hence Paul encourages us to do it intentionally.
I love the time when Jesus was speaking to the 5,000 men, plus women and children. Jesus spoke for a good portion of the day, teaching them truths from God’s word. His disciples encouraged him to dismiss the crowd, as they were in a remote place and the people had not eaten for most of the day. This would give them an opportunity to return to their homes and eat something. In John chapter 6, I can picture Jesus - tongue in cheek - saying to his disciples, “where should we buy bread for these people to eat?”
Now, I’ve cooked for as many as 342 people at one time and, let me tell you, that was a lot of food! I cannot imagine how much food it would take to feed over 5,000 people. Jesus was playing with them; he already knew what he was going to do. So why did he ask them this? I think so they could see their responses. I love Philip’s response: “Eight months’ wages would buy enough food for each one to have even one bite!” It’s safe to say that Phillip, at this time, was not walking in the Spirit! Now, before you think I am being hard on Phillip, I am fairly certain I would have reacted the same way. Andrew’s response was a little better. He pointed to a lunch a boy had, consisting of five “loaves” of bread (probably equivalent to our dinner rolls) and two small fish – enough food for a boy to eat. He brought it to Jesus but said, “How far will this go?”
I get the feeling from those verses that Andrew believed Jesus could stretch the food somewhat, but perhaps not for everyone. It didn’t matter that their faith in him was still not perfected. Jesus chose this opportunity to show them that he had the power to defy the laws of physics. You know the story – everyone ate and they picked up twelve baskets filled with leftover bread.
The point is, we need to walk in the Spirit, not just so that we avoid sinful situations, but also so we do not miss out on opportunities to see God’s power in action. Our initial response should be to look to the Lord, not to credit cards, doctors, lawyers, etc. I am not saying that credit cards, doctors, and lawyers don’t have their place; but what I am saying is that we need to see things through God’s eyes and not our natural eyes. When we are confronted with a problem, we need to give God the opportunity to resolve it and not try to fix it ourselves in the flesh. That is what got Abraham in trouble. If we look to the Lord and listen to His voice, it will not only spare us a lot of hardship but we may also see the laws of physics being defied before our very eyes.
Walking in the Spirit not only helps us with our troubles, but it is also a great way to spend some intimate time with the Lord. Many people believe and many churches teach that God is high up in heaven waiting for us to make a mistake so he can judge us. That is not a picture of the God of the Bible. He created us to love us and be loved by us. He desires an intimate love relationship with his children. He wants to spend time with us – not just when we are in need but also when we are rejoicing and celebrating. He’s not a spare tire, thought of and called upon only when needed. He is our heavenly father and dear friend. Make it your goal this year – starting today – to walk in the Spirit every day.