FOLLOW GOD AND WALK IN LOVE
Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
As a small child I remember walking through the snow following my Dad. I would try to step in his footprints to keep the snow from getting in my boots. At that time I remember thinking how very long his strides were. I could hardly reach them with each of my steps. What wonderful memories I have about following in the steps of my Dad. Good and endearing qualities are always found in children that follow in the footsteps of righteous parents. This thought is illustrated in the lesson text. Paul is writing to the Christians at Ephesus and refers to them as dear children of their heavenly Father.
Paul admonishes the Ephesians to be followers of God - to follow in His footsteps, to imitate Him in the ways Paul had just explained to them. In chapter four, he told the Ephesian Christians to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called (Vs. 1), to live in peace and unity (Vs. 3). Paul told them to avoid imitating pagan Gentile conduct, and exhorted them to live righteous and holy lives; to be truthful, control their anger and wrath, abstain from stealing, work honestly, edify others, be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Vss. 17-32).
Using the word therefore, in the lesson text, we are to understand that these admonitions, noted in chapter four, are the things God would have His children do. In so doing, Paul says, they would be following God's will, endearing themselves to Him as obedient children. They would be imitating God by "stepping in His footprints" as He led them safely along their pathway of life.
Paul then admonishes the Ephesians, as well as all Christians, to heed the will of God and walk in love. Each footprint God leaves for us to follow is filled with love. We know this to be true because God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16b). How do we know of His abundant love for us? Because His Son, Jesus told us, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The example of love God wants us to use is that of His true Son, Jesus Christ. As adopted children of God (Eph. 1:5), Jesus is our brother as well as our best possible example of love.
God demonstrated His love for mankind by giving us His only begotten Son. Jesus demonstrated His love for mankind by offering Himself as a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor,that ascended into the presence of God, our Father in heaven. John, as well as all other apostles, testified that God, the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). John continues his testimony in verse 15 by telling us, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. This is the confession that all Christians must make in order to be followers of God, as dear children.
In the lesson text, we find the two greatest examples of love known to mankind - God's love for His dear children, and Christ's love for God's dear children - His adopted brothers and sisters. There is no greater love than this. It is this great love that we are told to walk in, to imitate, to take as our own manner of life, to teach and to demonstrate love to the world around us. Listen to these words Jesus spoke to His apostles and, through the inspired gospel of His apostle John, speaks to us today: This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). This was the mission that God, through His abundant love for mankind, sent His Son into the world to accomplish. Imitating His Father's abundant love, Jesus Christ carried out this mission.
Friends, God, your heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus, your brother, has the deepest of love and affection for you. They have prepared a home in heaven for those that love them and follow their example of love, by demonstrating it in their lives here on earth. Do you love your heavenly Father and follow Him? Do you walk in love, as did His Son, Jesus Christ? Does this relationship, this dear and close friendship, exist between you, God, and your brother Jesus Christ? Again, listen to these words of Jesus: Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you ...These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:14&17). Learn this from our lesson text - Follow God and walk in love!