Pamela Myers Palmer
"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
I don't know about you, but when I read a passage like the one above, I get a little nervous. Be like Jesus? Love like He loved? Is that even possible? I know my past. I know my mistakes, my sins, how I've given into temptation, and how I've let others down. Even as a lifelong Christian, I haven't been exempt from the trials and hardships of this world. It isn't always easy to follow God's example.
But truly, what other way is there to live but to follow God's example?
When you've lived contrary to God's way, has it ever ended up good? Has living sinfully ever left you filled up and content? Me neither. I have been spared a lot of suffering by surrendering to God's way and living righteously as best I can. His ways are good, perfect, and life-giving. Being more like Jesus leaves me feeling joyful, content, and closer to Him.
It is the enemy that likes to make us feel guilty about things we have done and the shortcomings of our past. The enemy wants us to believe that we've already missed our chance and to just give up on trying to follow Jesus' example. But Christ already went to the cross for every wrong thing you have done. His word says that He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and purify you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). Hallelujah! He has made a way for us to be free to follow His example.
So we CAN be more like Jesus, even now. We can be lovers. We can love others not because anyone is perfect, but because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:9). We can follow Jesus' great example of love. He ate with the lowly, He came to the defense of the sinners and invited them to repent, and He pursued the oppressed that no one else would even talk to. What if we all loved a little more like Jesus loves?
When He walked this earth, Jesus left us with two commands: to love the Lord and to love others . More than anything else, we are called to love. We will make plenty of mistakes and will need a learning curve, but following God's example of love should be a top priority. When we love like He loves, we abandon judgement, pride and jealousy. When we love like He loves, we see others as beloved creations of God, we can let go of bitterness, and be a light to a world in desperate need of hope. Whatever you're going through, whatever you're being delivered from, and whatever healing you're waiting for, you can still follow God's example today and walk in love.
>> Suggested readings: Psalm 103, John 8, 1 Peter 4, 1 John 1, 1 John 4
This week's prayer
Lord, we rejoice that you instruct us to love others. To love is so much easier than to hate. Empower us and strengthen us to love others. Give us wisdom and clarity on what it means to walk in love and to follow Your example. We are so grateful that Jesus gave His life for us, committing the most loving sacrifice known to humankind. Our hearts and lives are changed and redeemed in ways we cannot even understand because of this. Help us to follow You with passion and excitement, to love you with our whole being, and let us love others as You would love them to the best of our ability. Amen.
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