What does it mean to walk in God’s ways? It means that we are to imitate the ways of God (Imitatio Dei). Moses said, “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways …” (Deuteronomy 10:12). The commandment to imitate God is the fundamental principle of godliness. The Master expresses the idea, encouraging us to imitate God, “That you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45).
A classic passage of the Talmud explains the mitzvah of walking in His ways:
Rabbi Chama son of Rabbi Chanina taught, “What does it mean, ‘You shall walk after the LORD your God?’ Is it really possible for a human being to walk after the Shechinah; for has it not been said [in Deuteronomy 4:24], ‘For the LORD your God is a consuming fire?’ It must mean to walk in the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He. Just as He clothes the naked, as it is written [in Genesis 3:21], ‘The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them,’ so too should you also clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick, as it is written [in Genesis 18:1], ‘Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre’ [while he was still recovering from circumcision], so too should you also visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, as it is written [in Genesis 25:11], ‘After the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac,’ so too should you also comfort mourners. The Holy one, blessed be He, buried the dead, as it is written [in Deuteronomy 34:6], ‘And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab,’ so too should you also bury the dead.” (b.Sotah 14a)
Therefore, the commandment to “walk in the ways of God” includes clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, and burying the dead, but the commandment is not limited to those five deeds of loving kindness. He is also the God who feeds the hungry, assists the poor, has mercy on the sinful, rescues the perishing, heals the brokenhearted, restores homes and families, and does good to all. He is the God of absolute integrity, truth, holiness, and justice. He is righteous in His every decision.
Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is called merciful, so you should be merciful; just as He is called gracious, so you should be gracious; just as He is called righteous, so you should be called righteous; just as He is called devout, so you should be devout. (Sifre on Deuteronomy 10:12)
The Master lived this principle out perfectly in every situation. All that He did and said He derived directly from the Father. He walked in the ways of God, making God’s will His will in every decision. He said: “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:28-29). As such, He revealed the glory of the Father. His life glorified God in that it accurately represented God. He spoke in truth when He said to His disciple Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As we imitate the ways of Yeshua, we learn the ways of God and keep the commandment to imitate God. That is the essence of discipleship and unity with God.