What is your favorite scent? Is it a candle or perfume? Maybe it’s freshly brewed coffee, homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, early spring lilacs or mid-summer honeysuckle? I love the calming aroma of lavender, and also the smell of baby shampoo, in part because it reminds me of cute, clean, snuggly babies. While I do not know if God has a favorite scent, our passage today tells us He is highly pleased with the aroma of Christ’s sacrificial love.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2
Christ’s sacrificial love for us led Him to die on the cross for our sins. He offered himself as a perfect atoning sacrifice, so that we might be spared from the punishment for our sins. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus demonstrated that greatest love, for He willingly laid down His life for us. His sacrifice pleased His Father so much that here we read it was as a fragrant aroma. Put simply, Christ’s loving sacrifice for us smelled good to God. I might love the scent of lavender, but nowhere near as much as God loves Christ’s sacrificial love. The command to walk in love comes in the context of Christ’s sweet-smelling sacrifice.
Walk in Love
Believers are commanded to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you.” We are to live out a life of love, just as Christ loved us. My love for others is to imitate the way Christ has loved me. In His love, Jesus gave himself up for me. He gave up His very life so that I might live. You and I are called to walk out our love for others by following Christ’s example of sacrifice. God calls us to choose what is best for others over and above what is comfortable for ourselves. We love by blessing others at our own cost and inconvenience. While this will be hard for us, and will be painful at times, our sacrifices to love others will never surpass Christ’s sacrifice to love us. When we walk in giving, sacrificial love, we also come to God with a fragrant offering. How do we smell good to God? By walking in Christ’s footsteps, choosing love for others over pleasing ourselves as our response to God’s gospel of grace.
How has your life smelled lately? Does it share in the aroma of Christ’s love? By God’s grace, how can you walk in love today, saying “no” to your desires so you can say “yes” to walking in love for others?