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.
“Walk in the way of love…” I cannot help but think about this phrase. Ephesians 5:12 describes walking in the way of love in such a manner: just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us….
I can see two things about LOVE here:
First, it is a choice. Jesus chose to love us. He chose to leave the comforts and majesty of Heaven to be born on earth and live life like a man. Philippians 2:6-7 says it well: “Who, existing in the form of God, [Jesus] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Coming in the form of human likeness also meant that Jesus had to learn obedience—just like us. And obedience for Him meant choosing love everyday—despite the inconvenience of journeying around Israel with disciples who were far from perfect, the tiredness of a busy schedule ministering to people, and the constant tests given to him by the religious leaders. The ultimate test of love came from God the Father Himself on the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth: Would Jesus finish his purpose on earth and “become obedient to death—even death on a cross”? (Phil 2:8)
The second thing I see about walking in the way of love is certainly related to death. It is the giving of one’s self and one’s rights up. It means allowing our own hands to let go of the steering wheel of our own lives—even to the point of physically dying. Of course, to be a martyr may not be asked of us (a few of us, but not all); still, are we ready in case God does ask this of us?
There are also little deaths in our lives whenever we chose the way of love. Deaths are an everyday thing. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Taking up the cross daily means choosing what Jesus would do in the situations of our lives EVERY SINGLE DAY. It also means loving people, forgiving people, and choosing to see them the way Jesus sees them. It is denying what is easy for us— easy fleshly things like getting angry, holding on to bitterness, and retaliating pain with pain. Can we say “no” to these and choose the way of love?
There are people who think that in giving themselves up to obeying God, they allow for shackles to be placed upon their lives. They have reasons like, “What? No more partying wildly? No casual sex? Where is the fun in that?” Yet Christ is clear: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt.16:25). It is an irony, but we can trust God in our daily dying to give us the best lives possible because after all, He is the AUTHOR OF LIFE.
When we choose to give ourselves up for the sake of the cross, we find ourselves emanating a fragrance before the Lord, which I believe even others can smell. They smell something different; something new; something redemptive. They start to smell Christ— vibrant and alive in us.
As dearly loved children of our Father, do we follow the way of LOVE? Do we follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ? It is not easy, but we can intentionally choose to love and give ourselves up for the sake of the cross. That is the way we walk love.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.