LINK: Ephesians 5
If I were asked to pick out a sentence from the chapter that sums it up, I'd pick this one: "And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2 ESV) That pretty much sums up the rest of the chapter, which is full of practical instruction on what it means to live in love.
But there are two other times in Chapter 5 where we are told how to walk. So here is the list:
v. 2 - Walk in love
v. 8 - Walk as children of light
v. 15 - Walk wisely
Paul begins with what seems to me to be a summary - we are to imitate God and walk in love, just as the LORD Jesus did. He gave Himself up for us. That's what love is. Love doesn't seek its own way. The LORD Jesus submitted to the will of the Father as he walked on this earth. He didn't pursue power or self-interest, but offered Himself for us. He is our example.
Then the chapter delves into what it means to walk in the light. We are given a list of behavior that isn't characterized by light. Coveting, impurity, and sexual immorality characterize darkness. Read the passage again for more specifics on what is defined as behaviors of the darkness. Once we have placed our trust and hope in Jesus' death and resurrection, we become light. That is a fact. It doesn't say that we can become light or that we hold light. We ARE light. The fruit of light is found in what is good, right, and true.
We are also told, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV) How do we walk wisely, making the best use of time? We know how to use our time when we understand the will of the Lord. God's will isn't a mystery. He tells us all through His Word what His will for us is. He tells us in this chapter!
Finally, we get back to how love is exhibited. Love is exhibited in submission. The church should be characterized by each of us living, not for her own glory, but for Christ's. As we live for the LORD Jesus, we will serve each other and look out for each others' interests.
Specific examples of what it means to submit in specific relationships are given next, but only the first example is in this chapter. We are told what the relationship of husband and wife is to look like. Wives are told to submit to and respect their husbands as the church submits to Christ. Husbands are told to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
It is very easy to find examples of people misusing the instructions of this chapter. We are light and are to live that way, full of thanksgiving to God and doing what is right and true and good. That doesn't mean that we are constantly pointing out to people the darkness (their wrong doing)! Light exposes darkness simply by being present and being light. My husband has this saying written in calligraphy: "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." There's a lot wrapped up in that!
Many people have taken the instructions on submission for the husband/wife relationship and excused sin because of it.
So reread this chapter! Try to read it with new eyes and an open heart. See how it points to the LORD Jesus. We live for Him, not ourselves. Are your words characterized by thanksgiving to Him? Are you living as light? Are you offering yourself to Him by living sacrificially for other believers? Do you respect your husband? Do you love your wife? Are you walking wisely?
Help us to walk in love, as fragrant offerings to you, dear Lord.