You Before Me (Ephesians 5)

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Paul is calling us to act like God. If we really look at what it means to be a Christian, this makes total sense for our theology. Jesus Christ is God, and we are his followers, so naturally we are trying to imitate God in our daily lives. Paul writes, “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (5:1-2, NASB). Paul goes on to describe what this lifestyle looks like; putting away immorality, impurity, greed, filthiest, “silly talk”, foul language, and inappropriate joking and taking up a life of thankfulness. Paul recognizes this to be the way of the world. Christ calls us to be humble and thankful.

I think of a story within Jesus’ life. In Jesus’ time, it was customary for slaves to come and wash the feet of dinner guests, especially for a special dinners. Before the start of Christ’s final meal, he took up a towel and a water basin and proceeded to wash the disciples feet. He humbled himself before them. Being God, he was obviously deserving of all the disciples washing his feet, but he showed them that as his followers they were to take a lowly position so that others may be taken care of. (John 13:5-20)

Paul goes on and shows that our relationships with each other mirror Christ’s relationship to the Church. Paul first shows this through the marital relationship. Just like the wives are to be submissive and obedient to their husbands, so must the Church be to Christ. However, husbands get a much lengthy call from Paul in this letter. Husband are to be sacrificial for their wives. Husbands must give up everything, even their own lives, so that their wives are taken care of. In this same way, Christ died for the Church for her own good.

Can we live this sort of life today?  Let’s sit there for a second. Can we really live out this life of sacrificial love for one another that Christ has modeled for and called us into?

 

Too many times we hear about selfishness and greed ruling the world. Phrases like “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” and “we just grew apart” show me that this lifestyle is rarely known in our world. We have been called to stand out in our world. Paul writes in another letter, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB). This world tells us to look out for #1, while Christ shows us to look out for everyone else. Christ died for you and me when he did not have to. God could have chosen to let us all suffer the consequences of the Fall, and many of us do. But thanks to Jesus, we no longer have to suffer that punishment. We should be sacrificial in all of our relationships. Always giving up what we want, so that others may get what they need. I’m not saying that Christians should be in poverty so the rest of the world can prosper, but we tend to get too caught up in our own wants and desires we rarely stop to think about anyone else. Christ modeled a life of sacrifice for us to follow. I suggest that if we want to call ourselves Christians, we stop worrying about ourselves and start worrying about others.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 1-3

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It Takes Sacrifice (Judges 11)

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Today’s chapter has two distinct sections. The first section we see the life of the next Judge of Israel, Jephthah. We see that he is a illegitimate child, and was chased away by his father’s “actual” sons. But during the oppression by the Ammonites that we read about yesterday, the sons of Gilead came back to Jephthah and asked him to rule over them and lead them in battle. In the second section we see a prayer from Jephthah. He prayed, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” (11:30-31, NLT). Upon returning home, Jephthah’s daughter, his only child, came out of the house celebrating her father’s victory. After telling her what he must now do, he sent her away for two months to grieve over the rest of her life and the fact she wouldn’t ever have children.

In order to receive blessing from God, a sacrifice must be made. The bigger the blessing, the more costly the sacrifice. The book of Leviticus is full of directions for sacrifice, what to sacrifice for which situation. But here, Jephthah gave a fairly open ended sacrifice. He wasn’t simply asking for victory over the Ammonites, he was also asking for God to come back to the nation of Israel. So the sacrifice had to be large. Jephthah was going to have to give up his one and only child for the salvation of the Israelites. Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, …” (Romans 8:3, NASB). There is no amount of sacrifice that we could give to overcome our sin, because the sacrifice was more than anyone could give. So God did what no man could do; He gave the greatest sacrifice so we could receive the greatest blessing of all time. Jesus did not die simply because it was in God’s plan. He died because God loved you and me so much that He wanted to gives us a way to be with Him.

Life is hard, and to receive blessing will take sacrifice. But thank goodness the price has been paid for our sins.

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 61-65