Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)
Yesterday we learned that people who have been adopted into God’s family as children through faith in Christ should imitate God who loves us. Paul expands on that today by telling us that we imitate God when we live in love.
The Greek word translated “live” here is περιπατεο (pronounced: per-ee-pat-eh’-o). This word means “walk”. When we walk we take one step at a time. Every step we take through life should be filled with love. It is the way Jesus lived. God is calling us to love just as Christ also loved and gave Himself for us.
What the world calls love is really lust. It is self-focused. It seeks self-gratification. But that is not how God defines love. God’s definition of love (which is the accurate definition) is sacrificial. When we love someone we seek their good at the possible expense of our own.
God’s love for us caused Him to give [John 3:16]. God sent His son from heaven to earth to die for our sins even though His son was 100% innocent. God had our greater good in mind. Jesus’ love for us caused Him to give up His place in heaven and take on the dire penalty of our sins so that we could be free [Philippians 2:5-8]. God is love [1 John 4:8].
Giving is the byproduct of love. When you love others, you want the best for them and you do what you can to bring it about.
As a result love is costly. It may require we sacrifice our time or our pride. Too many marriages fail because one or both partners only want to take. They don’t want to give. The vast majority of people who get married really have no idea that they are not in love, but that they are in lust.
Love also requires a commitment regardless of the possible consequences. Our culture thinks that love is a warm, fuzzy feeling and if they don’t get that then they decide they aren’t in love. But Jesus debunks this definition of love. Jesus willingly allowed nails to be driven through His wrists and feet and then hung on a cross for hours in incredible pain because He loved us. There was no warm, fuzzy feeling. There was incredible pain. But He stayed committed because He loved.
Jesus gave His life as a sacrificial and fragrant (pleasing) offering to God. God was pleased with this not because He is sadistic but because through Jesus’ love human beings could be washed clean of their sins and spend eternity with Him in heaven. He had our good in mind.
God wants us to live similarly. We should love others by seeking their good at the expense of our own. An incredibly high standard.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.