“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” (I Thessalonians 4:1)
When we first guide our children in the art of walking, we are doing it for the long haul. We direct and show them how to take those first faltering steps, and as they toddle awkwardly across the room, we cheer them so they keep placing one foot in front of the other. Our goal is not for them just to navigate our home. We have the long-range plan in mind that they will get stronger, be more agile, and increase their speed until walking is second nature and they experience the endless freedom that crawling on all fours can never provide.
In similar fashion, the apostle Paul urges his readers to “walk to please God” and to keep walking, to keep pleasing him, and to keep doing this “more and more.” We never arrive. We never reach the point in our journey along the Christian path where we ever stop trying to please God. We are called to please him, to live our lives in such a way that we are never satisfied with the place we find ourselves. We are to please him more, to love him more, to find in him our deepest satisfaction and to continue pursuing him above all others.
Our God is love and calls us to love and to keep acting out of love, to do it more and more. Since God is pure, as his child I am to live out his purity in all that I do and say and am. Because God is forgiving, I am to be forgiving today and tomorrow and the next day as well. He is merciful and patient, and he desires that I live out mercy and patience in my everyday dealing, especially with those who might not deserve it. I am to demonstrate his character more and more. I am to represent my God with my attitude and my actions. I don’t get the option to quit; I am not to settle for anything less. More and more and more is the challenge before us.
Paul tells his readers: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:3). Sanctification involves separation from what is sinful and a setting apart for a sacred purpose. The apostle spells out clearly what this might involve: staying away from every form of sexual immorality; acting out holiness; pursuing what is honorable; eliminating any wrongdoing against others; putting all actions through the grid of loving with our whole heart.
One step in front of the other; one act of love lived out and another loving act follows behind; a rhythm of purity and more purity besides; a cadence of forgiveness followed by another measure of forgiveness in time. More of all he wants us to live out for the exhilarating cause of bringing the Father the highest and the greatest pleasure, while our two feet make their way across the kingdom of earth in the freedom he provides.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell