Paul continues to show us the way we need to live as a part of the body of Christ. As we start chapter 5, we see one of the most important aspects of this journey.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life 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 NIV
This has got to be one of the most incredible commands in all of Scripture. It’s so simple to read, yet the implications are enormous.
“Be imitators of God”. The Greek word for imitator is the word from which we get the English words, mime, and mimic. That doesn’t imply that we’re almost like Him. It means that our goal is to look, speak and act exactly like the Lord.
I know it would be easy to ignore this verse. We might say that Paul got a little carried away as he was writing. However, that’s not the case. Jesus Christ, Himself told us almost the same thing.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48 NIV
Of course, this doesn’t mean perfect in the sense of never making a mistake. That word literally means to be mature and of full age. It’s telling us that we need to grow up and live at a spiritually mature level.
This is an important concept for us to understand. Many people enjoy living at a level well below what they should have grown into. Even in the natural, there are adults who still want to act like adolescents.
The fact is that God wants us to grow up into our full level of maturity. That’s what brings glory to His name. When that world sees an example of who the Lord is, it makes them want to move closer to Christ.
That brings us to the second part of the above verse from Ephesians. We need to truly learn to live a life of love. That’s the agape-love of Christ. It’s the choice to participate in a positive way in someone else’s life.
And that brings us to the biggest problem with this type of lifestyle. To truly love in this way involves sacrifice.
I have my own agenda. There are things that I want to do, see, and accomplish. I don’t want to put my plans on hold in order to be a blessing to someone else.
But that’s why Paul used two different words for the sacrifice that’s required of us. He said that we need to be willing to be an offering and a sacrifice.
The word, offering, deals with the presentation of a gift. In this context it’s all about availability. Am I willing to be available to God for the benefit of others?
There are many who won’t even go that far. They basically put God on hold until a more convenient time arises. In most cases, it’s never convenient to obey the Lord.
But even so, the presentation is not enough. There are many who say, “I’m there for you.” or “I’ve got your back.” But then, when you need them, they’re not around, or too busy to help.
The next word, sacrifice, deals with that aspect. It means the actual sacrificial animal itself. It’s the putting aside of myself to take on the responsibility of helping the other person. It goes beyond words and loves through actions.
According to the above verse, that becomes a sweet-smelling perfume to God’s senses. Of course, that begs the question, what does it smell like when we ignore this command of the Lord?
Our goal should be a sweet-smelling body. We put on deodorant, perfumes, and fragrances all the time with our physical bodies. It’s time that we make the church of Jesus Christ a sweet-smelling place.
Question: When have you needed to put aside your plans for someone else’s needs.
© 2023 Nick Zaccardi