The instruction “Walk in the way of the LORD” sounds like some solid Christian advice. This past Sunday I recommended it to our 2016 high school and college grad’s. However, I suspect that a quick survey of what it means to walk in the way of the LORD would produce a broad array of answers.
- The Way of the LORD leads through the cross.
- The Way of the LORD is narrow.
- The Way of the LORD refers to the church.
- The Way of the LORD means obeying His commands.
- The Way of the LORD requires following the Shepherd.
- The Way of the LORD is easy and light.
- The Way of the LORD demands sacrifice.
In various measures these are all correct.
Most Christians are probably unaware that God himself provides a definition of this term.
In Genesis 18:19 Yahweh describes why he chose Abraham: “I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice.” (NRSV)
How can Abraham (and us) keep “the way of the LORD”?
“By doing righteousness and justice.”
I’ve never heard it defined that way. Okay, so I’ve never been asked to define “the way of the Lord”. It’s not a concept that all Christians know. Consider some of the other guiding principles Christians regularly recite:
- The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you’d like them to do to you.
- The Greatest Command – Love the Lord your God with your whole being.
- The Second Command – Love your neighbor as yourself.
- The Fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy peace, patience, kindness….
- John 3:16 – God so loved the world…
- The Beatitudes
- The Lord’s Prayer
Perhaps you have other personal favorites, but “The Way of the LORD” isn’t on any list that I know.
Most churches I know also use a variety of items to measure the spiritual health of their members:
- Volunteering / ministry involvement
- Bible knowledge
- Friendship with leaders
- Absence of glaring sins and problems
I’ve never heard a church leader (including myself) describe someone as spiritually mature because they embody righteousness and justice.
I know many people have more detailed and accurate definitions of what God means by “righteousness and justice”, but here’s my working definition to start the conversation:
If we want to keep the Way of the Lord we’ll care for the vulnerable around us. We’ll look for the oppressed. We’ll care for those who are bit different from everyone else. We’ll reach out to those who struggle with life. We’ll stand up for those who aren’t treated fairly and aren’t given the opportunities they deserve. Righteousness isn’t limited to our personal innocence or purity. It means doing the right thing, the just thing, for others.
Who are the vulnerable and oppressed in your community? How is your life involved with theirs? Are you living righteousness and justice? Are you walking in the Way of the LORD?