Oh, I’m not asking about your physical stride but rather about your walk in the Lord. Those who have a high regard for the integrity of how well they remain faithful in their conduct, in their comportment, and in their work, well know the importance of appropriate standards and of the self-discipline needed to keep true to the Word. A faithful walk is a super-natural walk!
Our culture disregards true authority, and yet it is attracted to lawless authoritarian practices. Many blindly follow the mob to do wrong (c.f. Exodus 23:1-3). Attached to the spirit of our times is an abrupt despising of those who have gray hairs – and the wisdom that may accompany them. Consumer marketers zero in on the trends and passions of social groups and identities. Consumer marketers have no conscience about leading others into licentious behavior – work mates may even encourage a loose behavior, they may even remind you that what goes on at work should stay at work; and if you are on the road – that what happens on the road stays on the road. There are plenty of excuses in the world to violate the standards by which we would walk as those redeemed by Jesus Christ.
As it was in the early Christian church, so it is today. There are quarrels, disputes, and there are many who are more than willing to condemn churches that are faithful along with those that are unfaithful. Tension within the church has a long history as shown in the dispute that is recorded in Acts 6:1-7. This complaint arose because widows did not receive due ministry of care which is a responsibility of the church. The local church elected seven men of good repute (this implies qualification for candidates for the role of deacon), men of the Spirit who were appointed to the ministry of temporal care thus permitting the disciples to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. The work of deacons and the ministry of the word were instituted to serve the saints. Throughout the Bible the role and purpose of prophets, ministers, elders, and deacons, is to serve the people of God. Congregations choose from among themselves men who are qualified to serve in their respective offices.
Church discipline all too often is misunderstood as folks they react and shudder out of experience or exposure to oversight that has gone wrong or has been misunderstood. Sadly, there are casualties of improper church discipline. Our hearts break over this, particularly because our Lord Jesus himself established discipline for the good of his people. The book of Hebrews tells us, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline and nurture work together to express God’s love for the Father’s redeemed children. Church discipline consists in gentle nurture provided through the steady repetitive preaching and teaching of the Word, which must be attended with gentle correction.
There is a rightful process by which we are admonished to resolve conflict within the church. That process is described in Matthew 18:15-20, and it provides a step-wise process for escalation of concerns for one who has sinned, or one who has strayed – which is the sin of breaking fellowship. Psalm 51:17 says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Our covenant-keeping God does not despise  the penitent sinner, rather promising mercy and kindness to all who come to him in humility seeking pardon. The oversight of the church of Christ is a duty to work tirelessly with the flock to recover the lost, to win back those who stray using kind words and deeds and by gentle but firm persuasion. Elders  must be vigilant in prayer with and for those over whom they are God’s appointed watchmen. We all know that no matter how hard elders labor, it is not their craft and skill that win back the lost, but the work of the Holy Spirit alone that can (and does) change hardness of heart into willing compliance to repent and seek to be restored in grace.
It is timely for us to be reminded that followers of King Jesus cannot walk alone. They do not walk alone. They also ought not to worry about the things of this world. John 14 through 15 cast a beautiful light on the concerns Jesus had for his own. John 14 opens with the reminder for our walk: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Then in John 15 we read: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” If we fail to exercise self-discipline over our walk, our hearts will be troubled!
What troubles our hearts? Sin does! Oh, you might say that’s a bit harsh! However our fallen human nature is more likely to hear the counsel of the evil one who whispers in our ears that once we sin we are a lost cause, and thus should just enjoy the fruits of sin. Those who fail to walk by the Spirit have no helper to bring them back to the only comfort that can be found in life. It just so happens that nestled between the start of John 14 and the start of John 15 you will find words of most remarkable reassurance. Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper/counselor/advocate, 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you!” (John 14:15-18).
The best advice for all believers is to trust God and to believe the promises of Jesus. Cling to Jesus, he is with you, he abides with and in you through the work of the Holy Spirit. Abide in him with all your heart and your walk will follow.
Luke 15:11-32 – The Prodigal Son
For a comprehensive overview of the duties and responsibilities of elders, see: “The Ruling Elder”, Samuel Miller.