(Ephesians 5: 1-2) “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
I don’t believe that there is any segment of Christianity that would deny the fact that love is a defining element – if not THE defining element – of our faith. But I’m not sure that all of us are on the same page when it comes to what love is and what it looks like in action. Our culture at large certainly has a messed up view of what love is.
I once heard someone define love as “selfless concern for the good of another”, and I think that fits well with what Paul says here – we are to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.” He describes Christ’s love in Romans 5:8: “8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Selfless concern for the good of another.
You remember when Jesus was reinstating the ministry of the denier Peter on the seashore in John 21, He asked, “Do you love Me?” When Peter said, “Yes, I do love You,” Jesus replied, “Then take care of my sheep.” Jesus was telling Peter, if you are going to love Me, then you must give of yourself to others. Selfless concern for the good of others.
And Paul in his writings over and over affirms that to love is to put the needs of others before our own wants and needs. In Romans 14, Paul is addressing the controversy that arose in the church about whether or not they must observe certain dietary laws. Paul says if we do something that is offensive to our brother or sister in Christ, in this case eating things in front of them that they believe to be unclean, then we are “no longer acting in love” (14:15). Even when something is not forbidden to us, if it causes distress in our brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul says that love compels us to respect them and not tempt them to do something that they believe to be wrong. Selfless concern for the good of others.
Paul told the Romans that we have a debt that can never be repaid – a debt to love one another (Romans 13:8). “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (13:10), he says. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (12:10). He told the Galatians, “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (5:13).
We are to walk in love – a selfless love, like the love Jesus showed, that concerns itself with the good of others.
~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chairman