Saturday, October 04, 2014

Ephesians 5:2 - LWML Zone Really Devotion–Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa–October 4, 2014


And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV)

Whew! Something stinks. Oh! I guess it’s me. Well I wouldn’t laugh if I were you. You smell too! Here listen to this and see if you smell it.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:25–32, ESV)

Do you smell it? You should. How many of you have done exactly, perfectly what God tells you to do there, through Paul. Yea, that’s what I thought. We all stink don’t we? We stink like death… as in the wages of sin. Might not be exactly the “fragrance” the planners over at LWML were thinking about when they chose this passage.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV)

In fact, the flowers on the bulletin cover look nice but they might miss the mark a bit, don’t you think. Right before this Paul urges us to

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1, ESV)

Well, I don’t know about you (well, I actually do know about you), but the fragrance of sin and death hangs in the air. We are sinners, due death and poor imitators of God.

And yet, Paul says, “Be imitators as beloved children.” He says “Walk in love, as Christ loved us.” How is that? Well, Jesus lived, and worked, and walked and talked, to sinful people everywhere. He gave them what they needed, food, healing, comfort, and most of all forgiveness. That’s the “gave himself up for us” part. His death on the cross, his suffering there, his burial in the ground, his body wrapped in linen cloths and spices to keep away the smell of death, all done for stinking sinners, you and me. He was an “offering and sacrifice to God”. The words are referring to the daily offerings and sacrifices given to God in the temple. That was Jesus. Offered and sacrificed on the cross. And it didn’t smell good. Death never smells good. But it was a pleasing smell to God. Not because it was flowery, but because it was God saving his children. God doing what is necessary to save sinners. God, in Jesus Christ, taking the punishment of sin and failure in himself, through the cross, through death and through the resurrection to new life.

Walk in love. Yep, even stinking sinners can do it. Not because they can, but because He did. All that stuff that Paul says to do we do because not so that. We love because he first loved us and gave himself as the atoning sacrifice for us. We love because our neighbors are living in the smell of death and the solution isn’t us, but Jesus. Amen.

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