“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 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
In last weeks article we leaned upon the amazing imagery painted in Psalm 18 of our loving Fathers response to the pleas and cries of help that reach His ears from His beloved children. The point was that as we allow God, through our calling out to Him in spiritual pursuit and through the living out of a healthy Godly lifestyle, God will defend His sons and daughters. He will bring victory into the areas of our lives that have been invaded by the enemies influence.
To supplement the purpose of last weeks article I referenced how my Group had prayed through and discussed the lessons of Ephesians 5, saying that in this chapter we “…see some very practical and spiritual ways in which we, as followers of Christ, can and should live our lives. Our practical actions can become spiritual elements of warfare. If we live our lives as Ephesians 5 teaches we will open the door for God to work in and through us.”
As we begin a season of rest within the Groups ministry, and with the knowledge that Pastor Brady is leading us through these specific scriptures on Sunday mornings, I felt it prudent to further dive into the richness of these lessons over the next few weeks. My hope, as we approach the beginning of the summer trimester, is to encourage you as you rest in God’s presence. My words may not be revelatory, but I certainly hope that they are a healthy reminder of how we can refresh our lives, strengthen our faith, and prepare ourselves for the ministry that is before us.
As Pastor Brady shared this past Sunday, the final three chapters of Ephesians deal with living out the Christian faith in maturity. Therefore, what we read in chapter 5 is really a continuation of what is read in chapter 4 and is a prelude of what is read in chapter 6. All of it is highly practical with a strong spiritual influence in and around our lives. Thus, I encourage the unified study of all three chapters.
Very simply, somewhat obviously, and with extreme profoundness, Ephesians 5 begins with the phrase, “Follow God’s example…” Certainly we know that God is the ultimate example, and it is clearly understood that we should do what we see Him do. However, because of the simple and seemingly obvious nature of this phrase, we can tend to meander right past the purpose and importance of these words.
Paul uses these words right in the middle of his spiritual maturity lesson to indicate that his teaching is not the result of arbitrary commands given by a distant dictator who lives by a separate set of rules. Instead, they are an explanation of a close and highly relational and loving God whose very nature is made of righteous attributes. Thus, they should become our very own. This phrase, then, becomes an exclamation mark to all Paul is teaching, with love being the primary trait of God’s character to be imitated – “as dearly loved children” he says, “…walk in the way of love.”
1 Corinthians 13 closes with Paul sharing this idea in another form. He says in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Faith and hope are basic tenants of Christianity, but Paul makes it very clear that love is of first and utmost importance. Without love there is nothing else of value. God is love and, therefore, as His “dearly loved children,” the first thing we should see in Him and which we must imitate in all aspects of our lives is His love.
If you need a refresher as to what love is, true God-character love, and what it should look like, go back and study the rest of 1 Corinthians 13. Meditate on what Paul teaches in this regard. Then, as you walk through this season of rest, keep love at the forefront of your mind, in your spirit through prayer, and in your actions through the purposeful interlacing of it into your daily activity. Be intentional. Intentionality is the only way to follow God’s example. We have to do it on purpose.
The more we practice love, the more we become like the One who is love. The more we implement the elements of love into our daily lives, the more love permeates the core of our soul. The more we exemplify the beauty of love, the more that beauty is shared and practiced by those we serve.
I will conclude with a command from our loving Savior. “’A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” (John 13:34 & 35)
Go Deeper, Grow Stronger