Wednesday, March 12, 2008

God's Holy People: Part 3

In the first part of this series I pointed out that a follower of Christ needs to live counter cultural. It is by living differently from the world that we become beacons of light in this dark world. In part 2 of this series I hit on the truth that how we live reflects what we believe. If we truly believe in God and trust Jesus our lives will be different from those around us. I ended part two by pointing you to Ephesians 5:1-21 and saying that the apostle Paul provides us with ways we are to walk if we are going to be different from the world. In this third part we will look at the first way we are to walk.

First we are to walk in love:
1 Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children 2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting - all of which are out of character - but rather thanksgiving. 5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God's wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them, (Ephesians 5:1-7; NET)

I know this isn’t much of a surprise. As Christians we talk about love all the time. We know about the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love you neighbor as yourself. We know that neighbor is more than just the people you live next door, but they are anybody with whom you come into contact with. We have been taught that love is more than a feel, but it is a choice to treat people with dignity and respect in what we do and say. We know these things, but still love eludes us.

We are friendly. We smile at people, shake their hand, and ask them how they are doing, but we don’t really love them. We don’t hate them either, we just are indifferent to their existence. Paul has reminded us in this section two aspects of love that we tend to ignore.

The first aspect is sacrifice. Paul uses the example of Jesus while talking about love. Yes, Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross from our sins, but we tend to forget all that sacrifice entailed. Philippians 2:5-7 reads:
Having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (NASB)
There is a mystery in what Paul writes, but one thing is certain: Jesus left his place in heaven and became a servant for people. To follow Jesus means to become a servant, and many times in order for us to serve requires us to sacrifice. We cannot truly love people until we sacrifice for them.

The second aspect of love that we need to remember is humility. Love is absent of self. The actions Paul lists in verses 3-7 are things done because of selfishness. When we are only thinking about ourselves rather than God or others, these are the sins that will be evident in our lives. If we truly loved people we would stop doing these things. You cannot walk in love and be sexually immoral. You cannot walk in love and tell dirty jokes down at the coffee shop. You cannot walk in love and gossip about people. You cannot walk in love and be greedy. To walk in love requires us to put other people ahead of ourselves. In other words we come in third: God, others, us. Are you willing to humble yourself and walk in love?

  • Point to Ponder: We are to walk in love.
  • Passage to Remember: Ephesians 5:1-7
  • Question to Consider: Are you willing to humble yourself and walk in love?
God's Holy People: Part 1
God's Holy People: Part 2
God's Holy People: Part 4
God's Holy People: Part 5
God's Holy People: Part 6

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