Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Just as children follow their parent’s example, Paul exhorts us to follow God’s lead by expressing love to others. Easy to say; often hard to do. So how do we comply with Paul’s request? Christian love differs from carnal passion inasmuch as its motivated and modeled after Christ’s sacrificial love, or as Paul writes in Philippians 2:5, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,” the highest possible standard for believers. In the reading below, Paul lists certain actions that are out of place for Christians, urging us instead to be thankful for the new life we receive when we turn to Christ.
Paul hit the nail square on the head in his Chapter 5 opening, getting straight to the point by telling us to imitate God in everything we do by following Christ’s example. I want to be clear about something. To comply with Paul’s request, some people modify their former behavior to conform to a pre-conceived set of values and start living the “Christian” life. I think this is a misguided approach, that instead, Paul is prodding us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, and in God’s timing our thoughts and actions automatically come into sync with His.
The key is being thankful to God despite suffering the passing gasps of an age whose time has come and the simultaneous birth pangs of the emerging age. We’re witnesses to this change and should thank God that by using the gospel as the guiding light in our lives, we come into harmony with God’s Spirit. Paul recommends we judge or condemn no one. Instead, light the way by how we live and allow God to express His love through our interactions with others. Love conquers all!
A powerful part of Paul’s message is hidden in plain sight between verses 15 & 20. By skipping the warnings I’ve already taken to heart, I came up with this paraphrase: Be careful and wise, making the most out of every opportunity to serve the Lord in these evil days. And even if I can’t fellowship with friends during this time of crisis, my heart can still sing because of the Holy Spirit give thanks to God for all I receive in Jesus name. For more on the evil days Paul refers to, see what Jesus had to say about them in Matthew Chapter 24. They bear a striking resemblance to today’s world!
Paul ends with a simile, comparing the marriage between a husband and wife to the marriage between Christ and His church, using the mystery of how husband and wife become one by marriage to illustrate the way Christ and the church are one. During stressful and uncertain times like these, we must take every opportunity to let Christ’s light shine through deeds of kindness and love. By living lives filled and governed by the Holy Spirit, we move the world another step closer to bringing God’s kingdom “to earth as it is in heaven.”
Food for Thought:
Paul sets the highest possible standards for Christians. What does he want us to do?
How should we conduct our lives?
Why does Paul suggest we “make the most of every opportunity?”
How do Christians show they're filled with the Holy Spirit?
Why was Paul’s command to submit to one another so revolutionary?