“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5.1-2
There are many ways to live. Many approaches to life. Many ways in which we can treat others and ourselves. But Paul is suggesting one way — the way of love.
Now our culture has tried to redefine love, as you know. How one person defines love is not necessarily consistent with how someone else might. But I’m attempting to define love by God’s word, not cultural norms or behaviors. The Bible actually tells us that God is love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” 1 John 4.16.
It’s not only that God loves us, he embodies love. He is love. And he tells us to walk in the way of love and then illustrates love with an action. The action is the willing death of Christ, his sacrifice upon the cross. God is love and God is Christ and God’s best example of love is the actions of Jesus rather than the behavior of humanity.
Now we are to walk in the way of love — which means we walk according to how Christ lived and died. How he gave up his love for humanity for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. Walking in the way of love does not mean we accept a human definition of love but rather God’s standard. And love to God is demonstrated in Jesus, in keeping God’s commands, in loving God in return. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” Jesus says in John 13.35. And again, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love,” John 15.10.”
So what does this mean for us? It means we love God according to his ways. His sacrifice and how he defines love. We do not trade lust for love any more than we would bronze for gold. God’s standard for love is based in the person of Jesus Christ and his death upon the cross.
It’s easy to get sucked into the worlds definition of love. The devil wants us to believe that it’s doing whatever feels good to us, seeking self and satisfying every need of the flesh. But God says love is sacrificial and denying self. The only love that will last is God’s love for us and the ability he gives us to love him back.
How and who are you loving today? How is God stretching your ability to love him and others? What assignment of love is God attempting to give you that you have rejected? Turn to him and to his love. Cast your cares upon the Lord because he care for you.
“O Lord God, you are good. I thank you for loving us and for allowing us to love others. Help us understand love in light of your example Lord Jesus. Help us represent you to the world. Come now, Holy God, fall upon your people. Renew our love for you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen