When the pandemic hit over ten months ago, just about everything shut down. I went from being so busy I couldn’t catch my breath to making choices on how to prioritize my time more efficiently. For the first time in a long time I felt proactive rather than reactive.
I made a commitment to myself to make my physical health a priority. As a result, my husband and I began walking every day. Our long walks would come to benefit us both physically and emotionally in ways we never imagined. Having a walking partner (one I love) made all the difference in the world. I’m not sure I would have stayed with it had I been alone.
While taking care of ourselves physically is necessary, our spiritual health is critically more important (1 Timothy 4:8). Jesus wants to be our spiritual walking partner—every day, all day. When we ask Him into our hearts, it is as if He says, “Let’s take a walk.” I know this to be true because of the words He spoke to the disciples prior to His departure in John 14.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.(v. 16-17)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (v. 26)
The Holy Spirit, Jesus in us, desires to walk with each of us through our spiritual life journey. However, becoming spiritually fit (like physical fitness) doesn’t happen by accident. It takes consistency and effort on our part.
I’ll admit that walking every day hasn’t been easy. Some days the temperature was over 100 degrees. Other days it was cold and rainy. That’s not to mention all of the days I was tired and didn’t want to walk! But you know what? I did it anyway. I didn’t give into my natural tendency to bail. Could it have been because I didn’t want to disappoint my husband? Maybe it was because the time spent with him was more important than the walk itself. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is we walked, and we walked together.
While physically walking each day has been valuable, walking with Jesus every day leads to a relationship full of freedom and spiritual transformation. I can’t think of anything better. One of my life verses is Galatians 5:1.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Why are we to stand firm? As Paul noted, if we do not do so, we can lose sight of the gift of freedom available to us. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we are free from having to earn our way to Heaven. We are free from the power of sin. We are no longer controlled by our old master (flesh).
Unfortunately, we can be deceived by our circumstances (bad weather) and our own tendency to be self-absorbed. Our inner critic goes to work. We beat ourselves up and soon we get caught in the cycle of trying to gain the acceptance we already have through Christ Jesus. We actually lose sight of God’s grace. After all, Jesus went to the cross so we could be free. How tragic is it for us to remain in bondage?
Freedom alludes us if we skip our walks with Jesus. The flesh is powerful and should not be underestimated. Paul warned the Galatians repeatedly, and his warnings are pertinent for us today (Galatians 5).
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (v. 13)
Will we serve one another which is pleasing to God, or will we yield to our sinful nature (the flesh) and serve ourselves?
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (v. 16-17)
There is no way anyone can fulfill the lust of the flesh as they walk in the Spirit. The two simply don’t go together.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, etc. (v. 19-20)
There is a battle between the flesh and the spirit in every believer. Though it is an interior, invisible conflict, the results are outwardly evident. This battle will rage on until we get to Heaven. While it is true that we become a new creation when we accept Christ, the desires of our sinful nature never completely go away. Why? We are still in these fleshly bodies. To be honest, I find this very frustrating! I would venture to say we all have areas in our lives that trip us up. We seek God’s intervention and deliverance, but we continue to struggle. Paul speaks about this in Romans. I’m sure we can all relate!
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:18-20
A word of caution here. Paul isn’t giving us a license to sin (Romans 7-8). He is reminding us that attempting to do what is right in our own strength is impossible. Our natural tendency will always pull us away from our spiritual life in Christ. We will still have desires of the flesh, but walking by the Spirit keeps us from yielding.
Only when we walk in the Spirit are we able to discover God’s perspective and seek to please Him over ourselves. Over time as we exercise our spiritual muscles, we begin to see evidences of the internal changes happening in our lives. We become stronger!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (v. 22-23)
Walking with Jesus looks a bit different than walking with a spouse or a friend. When we walk with Jesus, He takes the lead, determining our route and guiding our steps. Our job is to keep up! When Paul says, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (v. 25), he is basically saying the Holy Spirit must be included in every move we make if we want Him to lead us.
Walking with Jesus—walking in the Spirit—is a daily, purposeful choice. Becoming spiritually healthy takes time. Just like exercise, we have to make it a priority. I have found the more consistent I am, the stronger I become, and the more my heart longs for the presence of my spiritual walking partner, Jesus (the one I love).
I pray you will take a walk with Jesus today.