Summary: the do’s and don’t of a believers love
Christianity is different from the way non-believers live. Instead of revenge, anger, hatred, the believer takes the higher road, the road of love. Why do we love? Because Christ loves us.
Amy Carmichael wrote, “If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast though that thou has not received? Then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I feel bitter towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
Honestly, loving others is hard. People have a hard enough time loving themselves but as Believers, love is not optional.
After officiating at a funeral last year, I had someone tell me they wanted me to conduct their funeral next year. I asked how he knew he would be needed my services next year and he said after hearing all the nice things I had said about the deceased, he thought he would plan a funeral where he could attend to hear all the nice things people would say about him. We often put off showing our loves until its too late.
It reminds me of an elderly man who was dying. Lying in his bed he could smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies floating up the stairs. With his remaining strength, he pulled himself up from his bed, and leaning against the wall, with great effort, he slide himself toward the stairs. Gripping the rail with both hands, he guided himself down the stairs, laboring with his breathing, he could see the doorway into the kitchen. If it wasn’t for the pain he was feeling he would have thought himself in heaven as he gazed at hundreds of chocolate chip cookies piled on the kitchen table. With all his strength he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees, his parched lips separated and he could already sense the taste of his favorite cookie. With his aged, withered hand, he reached up to take hold of a cookie when he was immediately smacked with a spatula by his wife who said, “Keep your hands off those cookies, there are for the funeral.”
We are looking at Ephesians 5:1-7, the love of a believer, what we are to do before we attend our funeral and pass on to heaven.
I. Believers are called to…
1. Be Imitators of God. Paul gives the Ephesians these instruction in verse 1, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”
The essence of God is love so as imitators we need to love as God has loved us. 1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
How much has the divine power of God given to those who believe? Everything. You might want underline the words “everything we need for life.”
We have been given everything we need to be imitators of God, to follow the example of Christ and walk out our life in love. When we accept Christ, the old nature is exchanged for a new nature and we are filled with the Holy Spirit who worked in and through us to provide the ability to walk a life like God.
It is a higher standard we are called to live by, a standard which needs to have God involved in every aspect of our life or we just won’t make it. The only way you can do it is to love men and women the same way Christ loves, a sacrificial love which one of love, acceptance and forgiveness. Be imitators of God. Secondly…
2. Live a life of Love. Paul wrote in verse 2, “and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Jesus Christ came and set the example, freely giving of himself, sacrificing for God. John wrote “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13). In Romans 5:9-11 we read, “9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”