We are challenged to “walk in the footsteps” in two passages, one dealing with Abraham, and another with Christ, but both helping us understand what it means to walk in the Spirit.
Abraham is our founding father in the faith according to Paul in Romans 4. He is not only the father of the Jewish people, biologically, but the father of all other believers as well (the uncircumcised). He is the representative figure of faith in the Bible, as Adam is the representative figure of flesh (living independently from God). As humans, we stand in Adam’s shadow, and share in his character(istics). As believers, we stand in Abraham’s shadow, and share in his character (istics). And so we “walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had” (Rom 4:12).
But Abraham is not only a shadow-caster. He also pre-figures our Savior, Jesus Christ. As David, the great Israelite king, pre-figured the greater King,
Christ (though imperfectly), so also Abraham, the father of faith, pre-figures the perfectly Faithful One, (even though Abraham was not perfectly faithful). Abraham teaches us 1) to be faithful, and to take God at His Word. He also taught us 2) to look forward to the One who would be perfectly faithful –
This takes us to Peter’s reference to Christ, who “also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps” (1 Pet 2:21). Peter has just said that suffering for doing good “is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” As we march in Jesus’ parade, following in his steps, we share in the grace that is His, and which he shares, and which we also should share.
So what does it mean to walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25-26)? It means to take God at His Word, and allow our lives to be shaped by that Word. It means to accept rejection even as we serve others sacrificially. May the Spirit help us become faithful servants.