May 27, 2019 • Life for Leaders
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.
Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting Jerusalem. As a part of this trip, I walked along the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis in Latin, also called the Via Dolorosa or the Way of Suffering). This is the path through the streets and alleys of Jerusalem upon which, according to Christian tradition, Jesus carried his cross. Along the Way of the Cross, there are twelve stations that invite us to reflect upon the experience of Jesus in that place and its relevance for us.
As meaningful as it was to walk the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem, in a very real sense you and I should do this each day no matter where we live and work. Ephesians 5:1-2 says that we are to imitate God “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.” Notice that we are to “walk” in the way of love. This refers not to literal walking, like what I did that day in Jerusalem, but rather to how we live our lives.
What does it mean to walk in the way of love? Paul answers this question by pointing to the death of Jesus: “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (5:2). Though Jesus loved people in a variety of tangible ways during his earthly life (feeding, healing, holding, teaching, making good furniture for them, charging them fairly, etc.), his most dramatic act of love was giving up his life for us on the cross. Thus the cross of Jesus defines the center of his love, and we are to imitate God by walking in the way of love, the way of the cross, the Via Crucis.
Much could be said about what this means. But let’s pause for a moment to notice what else it says in Ephesians 5:2. Christ’s giving up of himself on the cross was “for us.” It was an act of love for us, indeed the supreme act of love. But the verse goes on: “as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” By walking in the way of self-giving love, Christ not only served us, but he also served his Heavenly Father. By loving others in such a sacrificial way, Christ also offered a beautiful sacrifice to God.
And so do we. As we love people in imitation of God, as we seek to walk in the way of the cross, not only are people served, but also God is worshiped. Think of it. Your love for others does double duty. It cares for people and it glorifies God. It meets human need and it honors God.
Something to Think About:
As you think about your life, past and present, in what ways have you walked the way of the cross?
Today, are there ways you are loving people even as Christ loved you and gave himself up for you?
When have you received this kind of sacrificial love from others?
Something to Do:
Take some time in prayer, asking God what walking in the way of love might mean for you today. Specifically, are there people with whom you’ll interact today who need to experience God’s love through you? As you identify these people, then walk in the way of love with them.
Gracious Father, I give you thanks and praise for your supreme act of love through Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for loving me and giving up yourself for me.
Teach me, I pray, how to love others in this way. Help me when I’d rather not love so sacrificially. Open my heart to those around me who are in need. Quicken my spirit so I might extend myself to them.
And, as I do, may I worship you. May I come to see my life – my whole life – as one big opportunity to glorify you, indeed to walk in love for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
An Invitation to Take Up Your Cross
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.