And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:2
We have been taught that love is an action. The church has spent a great deal of time trying to get us out of the idea that love is a feeling for two reasons. The first is that many who say they love don’t show that love by actions. There is a disconnect between what they say they feel and what they do. The second is that the church has never really done well with feeling and can only measure doing. So we have songs that say, “Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.” (Apologies to Don Francisco!)
But it seems to me that love is much more than action. I know too many people who seek to prove their love for God and others by their actions, while their hearts are far from love. Because of this error in emphasis, many in the church think acts of service are the same as love. “He must love the Lord; he gave $10,000 to the church last year.” “Look how he loves her by opening the door for her.” But the Lord knows the truth:
Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. . . Isaiah 29:13
It’s easy to fake love. It’s easy to substitute duty and obligation for love. When the Lord called us to love, He didn’t mean a feeling that has no action in life—but neither did He mean an action that covered the disdain or apathy in the heart. Instead, He called us to walk in love.
I think we are beginning to see that the walk of the Christian life is the daily atmosphere in which we live. It’s more than the things we do; it’s the very life in us. To walk in love is to live in the heart attitude of Jesus toward all people. When we look at others, our hearts should be predisposed toward loving them. We should feel love and do love because love is in us and flows out of us. It’s just who we are.
I think this is the sense of what Paul meant when he wrote of us being the aroma of Christ in 2 Cor. 2:16. His aroma, according to the Ephesians passage above, is the sweet aroma of love. He overflows in us and His love radiates from us. Again, it’s just who we are.
Okay, back to the “real” world. If there is any part of the new life in me that conflicts with my flesh, this is it. The love of Christ doesn’t seem to radiate from me sometimes. (What an understatement!) It seems very difficult to love sometimes and I would not consider myself a loving person.
But listen: it is still who I am! Just because my flesh asserts itself often in this area does not mean that love is not who I am or that it doesn’t radiate from me. I am often thanked for my loving attitude—and it shocks me. Could it be that Jesus does flow from me, even when I don’t feel particularly loving? Yes! Ultimately, my flesh does not define me, Jesus does.
Say these words with me:
I do love others. I do love my enemies. I do love those who hurt me. My flesh does not, but—in the newness of the life of Christ in me—I do. Whether I feel it or not, I walk in love.