…that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:12
Paul continues with his exhortation to “increase more and more” from verse 10. He now tells them to “walk properly.” To walk signifies the conduct of one’s life, as it does consistently in Scripture. In this case, the word means “having good form,” and it is the opposite of walking in a disorderly fashion, as is noted in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. He then adds on to this the words, “toward those who are outside.”
There are a multitude of reasons which can be inferred as to why we should so walk. We want to be right examples for others, we would not want to be seen as inviting sin and unholiness, we would not want to be seen as subversive to the society in which we live, and etc. In walking properly, we would avoid such things, bring honor to the Lord, and have no reason for accusation against the title of “Christian.” However, if we are walking properly and we suffer, then Peter tells us the benefit of that –
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.” 1 Peter 3:14
Finally in this verse, Paul says, “and that you may lack nothing.” This can be taken in the neuter, as in this translation, or it can be taken in the masculine, and thus read, “may lack of no man.” In other words, not sitting around idle waiting for the rapture to happen. In such a case, they would be dependent on others. This is certainly the intent of the passage.
Paul will soon speak of the coming rapture, and he will continue to define events which will occur around that event in his next letter. In both, he indicates that this is what some were doing. They were sitting around, waiting on the coming of the Lord, and were not productive in their regular, or their Christian, lives. This attitude is certainly contrary to “walking properly.”
Unfortunately, there is an entire section of believers out there today who still fit this sad pattern. They are unproductive because they are speculating on what is known but to God. Equally unfortunate, they turn their lack of productivity around and claim that it is they who are doing the Lord’s business by being “watchmen” for the Lord’s coming. Reject this type of behavior and walk properly in this life you have been given.
Life application: We are here to live out our lives to the full, not sit around watching 10 rapture date-setting videos a day. That is a waste of the life the Lord has given us. Let us not fall into that sad routine.
Heavenly Father, it is wonderful to know that You have chosen a day for the Lord’s return for us, but until that day comes, You want us to walk properly, and not be dependent on anyone else for our needs. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, but keep our feet planted in proper conduct as we walk in this world. Help us to be honorable, productive members of society. We pray this to Your glory as we are evaluated in the eyes of those around us. Amen.