Genesis 5:22, 24 record: "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. . . . And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." Clearly, in the four verses allotted to this righteous man, the fact that he walked with God was his most distinguishing characteristic. But what does it mean to walk with God?
When we think about walking, we think about placing one foot in front of the other, moving from one place to another. The dictionary defines walking as moving on the legs with a slow pace. In the Scripture, forms of "walk" appear over 400 times in the King James Version, and the majority of the time, they refer to a particular course of life, the way we live and behave.
In the Septuagint, the phrase "walked with God" in Genesis 5:22, 24 is rendered as "pleased God." Hebrews 11:5, the author writes that God delivered Enoch from certain death because he pleased God—because he lived his life in lock-step with God.
To walk with God requires five attributes that we all need to strengthen in ourselves:
1. Righteousness. This is not self-righteousness, which Isaiah 64:6 calls "filthy rags," but at first, the imputed righteousness of God. Genesis 15:6 informs us that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Paul repeats this fact in Romans 4:3, explaining that in the same way, righteousness is also imputed to Christians upon justification. Psalm 119:172 says that all God's commandments are righteousness. So, if we live by and conform to every word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4), we will then grow in righteousness.
2. Faith. Hebrews 11:6 reads, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." It takes great faith to walk with God. Hebrews 10:38 tells us that "the just shall live by faith." We have to believe Him and His Word and trust Him with all our heart and being. It takes great faith just not to lean toward our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)! We must be convicted that God loves us and will perform what He has promised.
These first two requirements for walking with God represent the first and great commandment, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). We exhibit our love for God by obeying Him and believing what He says. The next two requirements for walking with God correspond to the second great commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
3. Integrity. Enoch must have been a man of integrity, governed by high moral principles, and so must we be if we seek to walk with God. A person of integrity is honest and just in all his social dealings. He loves mercy and shows compassion toward others. Solomon advises us, "The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him" (Proverbs 20:7), and "The integrity of the upright will guide them" (Proverbs 11:3). He is a man that people can trust to do what is right because he is following the way of God.
4. Humility. A truly humble person will not be afflicted with that common disease known as inflated ego. When we walk with God, because we realize His greatness in comparison to ourselves, the ego diminishes to its proper limits. Only then do we truly understand the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:3: "If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
Micah 6:8 teaches: "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Everyone who walks with God is required to live in humility. A humble person is gentle and lowly in heart as Jesus was (Matthew 11:29). A humble person can be bold and even aggressive in doing the will of God, but he is never contentious or hostile. Finally, there is no room for arrogance, pride, or jealousy within the one who walks humbly with God, for as Proverbs 15:33 states, "Before honor is humility."
5. Commitment. Lastly, our total dedication is called for in walking with God. We cannot be running off to do our own thing whenever we feel like it. Psalm 37:5 urges us, "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring [His promises] to pass." Our commitment must be like the whole burnt offering that was completely consumed on the altar, except that our commitment is a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), that is, dedicating our lives to following God in everything.
Psalm 15, one that we sing frequently in our Sabbath services, includes all the requirements for walking with God:
LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved (Psalm 15:1-5).
Our fellowship with God reaches its highest form when, in all the business of life, we are walking with Him, doing His will, and enjoying His presence.
- Clyde Finklea