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
The Christian life is to be a life of service, and a life of Christian service is a life of sacrifice. The apostle Paul calls us to model such a life, but does he mean for us to run out and be martyrs for God?
No, the sacrificial life Paul’s referring to is when we give our lives in selfless service to others—using our own gifts and abilities—but we do it as “unto the Lord.” Our Lord did the very same thing. He gave Himself for all of us—out of genuine love for us—but He ultimately did out of love and obedience to His Father.
This is the only way to be truly selfless, because if you are seeking your reward from others, then you will cease serving when you don’t feel like you’re appreciated for the sacrifices you’re making. When you’re serving others on behalf of the Lord Himself, then you can rest assured your reward will come from Him.
Such a life of sacrificial service is so pleasing to God that Paul refers to it as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” If you enjoy the smell of your house when “mom” is cooking Thanksgiving Dinner, then maybe you have a tiny idea of how much God enjoys our selfless service to others.
What’s interesting is that Paul immediately follows this verse with warnings against uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. How could he go from “walk in love” to “stop telling dirty jokes?” It’s because those whose lives are dedicated to sacrificial service are living out of the new man that they are in Christ Jesus, and there is no way they could be driven by selfless service if their mindset is such that they waste time in such meaningless living.
In addition, how could their minds be occupied with both a Christ-like love for others plus a desire for foolish living? They can’t. One or the other will dominate them. They cannot live both ways.
As Paul goes on to write, “no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5). You must be future oriented in your present living. You must always live in service to God while you are serving man. This is what it means to live with eternity in your hearts.