The Way of Love | Ephesians 5

Welcome to Real Life. What does it mean to follow the way of love?

“The way you just smiled reminded me of your mother,” Nora told me. She surprised me. No one tells me I resemble my mother. I take after my father’s side of the family. But Nora’s comment pleased me. Because my mother’s smile was bright, generous, and irresistible. You couldn’t help but smile in return. I want to follow Mom’s example, and smile as she did. 

My Mother's Smile

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.
Ephesians 5:1–2, NIV 

This verse used to intimidate me. Because I wholly focused on follow God’s example. All I could see were the many ways I fell short. Not surprisingly, I also struggled to believe God loved me. I didn’t think I was worthy of it. I tried following God’s example apart from knowing his love. It’s impossible!

Over the years, God convinced me. I am his dearly loved child. He loves us freely, no conditions. We don’t have to earn it. Though he wants us to follow his example, he doesn’t demand perfection. He loves us because we’re his children. He wants us to know and experience his love. (Read more in last post, "More of God.")

Just as knowing Mom’s smile makes me want to smile like her. Knowing God’s love makes me want to love like him—freely, no conditions. Just pure grace-filled love. This is walking in the way of love.

But the verse doesn’t end there. “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.” Now that part really can be intimidating. Christ loved us to the fullest extent. He shed his blood.

Sacrificial love is the highest calling in a relationship. Further on in this chapter, we’re encouraged to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.[1] Submission is pure sacrifice, isn’t it? We relinquish our desire, our choice, and our way and yield to the needs and desires of others. Since we naturally self-focus, it takes intentional effort to consider the needs of others. This, too, is walking in the way of love.

As I pondered these things, I considered how I might apply them to our current conversation on racial injustice and oppression.
  • Listen and learn. Instead of voicing our opinions, changing stations, or ignoring other’s voices.
  • Empathize. Not simply acknowledge, but enter in. Endeavor to understand the pain, the struggle, and the anger of those experiencing racial oppression.
  • Search our hearts. Admit our prejudices. Seek to reflect God’s heart, his attitude, his love for all people.
  • Recognize and grieve the injustice. Pray. But also do whatever we can to work for justice.
Choose the way of love. It’s worth the effort.
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.  –Augustine[2] 
I have my mother’s smile. Do I have my Father’s heart? 

Dear Heavenly Father,
You love us dearly, unconditionally, and sacrificially.
Teach us to walk in your way of love.
For we are all brothers and sisters from one Father-God.
May we work for justice, peace, and unity in our land.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Take it further: “Listen: A Family Conversation about Racial Unity.”

[1] Ephesians 5:21


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