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.
We’ve now seen Paul’s transition from general to more specific instruction, and when we left off at the end of chapter 4 it seemed that Paul was describing love among believers as the main priority in Christian living. Now, in the first two verses of chapter five, he confirms this impression with his brief comments on love, in what is really a bridge between instructional passages.
When you take these verses in with chapter 4 in mind, they are even more beautiful than when they are quoted alone, as they often are. Why? Because they show us that as we treat others as we should, which is to say that we place their interests and well being ahead of our own, we are actually following God’s example.
We love to think of ourselves as children of God, and Paul takes this thought and brings it into sharp focus, pointing out that we express this relationship in following God’s example in the way we live our lives. Yet we sometimes seem to feel like we are being asked to make sacrifices living for others instead of ourselves. I know I have heard this mentioned by some who are perhaps not having their best of days… yet Paul manages to put even this into perspective. When he mentions Jesus, he reminds us of how Jesus showed His love for us in giving Himself up as a sacrifice for our sin. As he moves further into this discussion, Paul will show us how we do this by no longer living according to old ways.