During a trip to Oregon, we drove along the coastline and, ultimately, came to the Garibaldi estuary. That is, we came to the point where the river met the ocean, where fresh water mixed with salt water.
The setting was beautiful and the concept mind-numbing. How does fresh water and saltwater combine while remaining separate and not tainted by contact with each other at the estuary? Given the mass of the ocean, it is clear that the fresh water is not going to dilute the salt in the ocean. But the same cannot be said of the fresh water in the river. Its mass nowhere compares to the ocean so why does the saltwater not taint the river’s fresh water?
I’m not an expert on watersheds or the movement of rivers, etc., but after doing some reading, I think a simple answer is that the saltwater is much more dense than fresh water. The result is that saltwater cannot go over the natural barriers that occur in the riverbeds. While there is some mixing of the two, in various ways depending on the estuary configuration, ultimately the fresh water is not at risk of contamination from the salt of the ocean. It seems to be impervious to it!
While we were reading in 1 Thessalonians, this week, we read these verses:
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12.
Paul uses the illustration of a parent and his child, one we can certainly understand even 2000 years after this was written. We teach our children how they should behave, how they should be courteous, how they should be kind and assist those who need help, etc. I recall that, when I would come back from visiting with relatives or friends, my parents would specifically ask if I “behaved myself”, and often a phone call would be made by my mother to confirm the validity of my affirmative response. She didn’t take my word for it, she checked herself!
This is like what Paul is saying to the Thessalonian Christians. We exhorted (strongly encouraged or urged) and they charged (entrusted them with a task or responsibility) the people. Why? Paul wanted them to “walk in a manner worthy of God.”
Matthew Henry, writing in the 17th century, asks what our “gospel duty” is regarding our relationship with God.
What is our great gospel privilege-that God has called us to his kingdom and glory. The gospel calls us into the kingdom and state of grace here and unto the kingdom and state of glory hereafter, to heaven and happiness as our end and to holiness as the way to that end.
What is our great gospel duty-that we walk worthy of God, that the temper of our minds and tenour of our lives be answerable to this call and suitable to this privilege. We should accommodate ourselves to the intention and design of the gospel, and live suitably to our profession and privileges, our hopes and expectations, as becomes those who are called with such a high and holy calling.
A more modern approach is expressed by David Guzik when, in considering these same two verses, he says the following:
It is impressive that Paul could freely appeal to his own life as an example. Paul didn’t have to say, “Please don’t look at my life. Look to Jesus.” Paul wanted people to look to Jesus, but he could also tell them to look at his life, because the power of Jesus was real in his life
… “How we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you … that you would walk worthy of God.” Paul himself lived justly and blamelessly, but he also told the Thessalonians they should live the same way. He could tell them that they should walk worthy of God because his life and message were consistent.
I suspect that you are asking yourself, “what does our walk with the Lord have to do with an estuary?”
Perhaps nothing in your mind, but in mine, I come up with these questions: Am I mixing salt with fresh? Am I getting so bogged down in this world that I no longer desire God and His kingdom? Am I so acclimated to the saltwater that I no longer relate to the fresh water of the gospel? I pondered whether my walk was worthy of God and His kingdom as I flittered from one thing to another, ignoring people in need, taking precious time for frivolous activities, putting Bible time off until I’m too tired to concentrate on what I’m reading. You get the idea.
Do I spend so much time doing things, which seem important at the time, with the result that I have no more energy, time or ability to pay attention matters that are of paramount importance, matters that have eternal consequences?
Does this sound familiar to you?
We are to walk through this world although we are citizens of God’s kingdom. We are to be salt and light to those we come in contact with, but we are not to be so attracted to them that we lose our perspective. We are to mingle and be Jesus’ representatives to others but we must remember, always, that our citizenship is in God’s kingdom — so we are not attached to the temporary things of this world, rather we look to those things above that are unperishable. In short, we must walk worthy of God even as we walk through this fallen world.
Paul reiterated this point in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 where we read:
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.
Do I walk, every day, in a manner that is worthy of my citizenship in the kingdom of God?
Do I walk worthy of my calling so that the name of the Lord Jesus will be glorified through me?
Father, I read in the Bible tht I should not have an attachment to this world but that I should set my mind on tings above, that I should glorify You through my actions, thoughts and words, that I should walk worthy of my calling that I have received from You. Oh Holy Spirit, cleanse me and give me Your power to do that which has been commanded so that my life will glorify my God and my Lord.