Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Community
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 5:1-21 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “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.”
If love is anything, it is most certainly sacrificial.
I once heard somebody ask, “Why would two perfectly sane married people trade their freedom, their bodies, their finances, a great sex life, and eight hours of sleep per night for a baby? Why would they trade all that for poop-filled diapers, demanding midnight cries for food (or who knows what?), medical bills, stretch marks, interrupted intimacies, and the need for a minivan?”
The answer, of course, is love. Love, by its very nature, is sacrifice.
Paul’s definitive written expression of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13. It consists of what love is not and what love is. It is patient and kind. It is glad with truth revealed. It protects, it trusts, it hopes and perseveres. In fact, it never fails (according to Paul).
Love does not envy, doesn’t boast, isn’t proud. Love doesn’t dishonor people (even if they deserve it), it doesn’t seek to put self first, it doesn’t get angry, and it doesn’t keep a tally of what other people have done wrong.
Looking at these things that describe the way of Jesus, it’s really easy to see that if a person were to truly love, it would require a huge sacrifice.
Yet, for the people for whom you sacrifice, this love is not a chore. This sacrifice is a privilege that is accompanied by unquenchable blessings. The love that parents have for their children is mixed with pain, worry, and strife—and joy, happiness, and satisfaction. These are the rewards that come along with love. Love is a mixed bag. But it’s worth it.
The way of love is the way of life. It’s the way of Christ. It’s the only way to eternal/ abundant/glory-filled life. It’s the way of the Cross. And we are called to walk in that way.
Recalibrate: What is the antithesis of love? How would it be expressed?
Respond: Ask God to show you how to receive love and how to return it like Jesus did.
Research: Read and take to heart 1 Corinthians 13.
Remember: “You are God’s children whom He loves” (Ephesians 5:1, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Make a game of picking up and putting away your child’s toys and your stuff around your home. Talk about how your favorite shoes belong in the place for shoes and that your little one’s toys belong in the toy box and their books on the book shelf. Lead your little one in how to care for the spaces around them and the people in them. Know that because you love your little one, the tidying up thing will be a chore you do for a long time. That is what love does and you can do that thing together. Lead your little one to live love and love life.
I love mountain biking. Zipping over dirt trails and rocks and around trees is exhilarating. It can also be very dangerous. One trail I used to ride with friends was very narrow. In fact, it was so narrow that you had to get off your bike, carry it on your shoulder, hold onto a metal chain anchored to a solid rock face, and follow a path that was about six inches wide around a corner. It was crazy! But my friend who showed me the trail knew what was coming and shouted back to us, “Slow down! Get ready to get off your bikes!” We slowed and hopped off the bikes. If we had not listened, we would have dropped into a canyon with a tiny creek at the bottom. Why might following the example of someone who knows what is coming be helpful?
Have you ever been to a museum or seen an expensive piece of art? Some of the items are worth a huge amount of money or are so unique or rare that there might only be one of them in the world. Do you think people take great care of these items? Do you think they take extra precautions when handling or cleaning them? What if I told you that you are more important than everything in all the museums on the whole earth? Do you treat yourself with that much care? Do you expect those around you to treat you with respect? Do you treat others with that much respect? If we think of ourselves and others as priceless objects, we might treat one another differently. God sees each of us as an unique and precious treasure and wants all of us to treat our fellow humans the same way.
I literally lose everything. Especially my keys. But the funny thing about this is that the one place I always find my keys is at the bottom of my backpack. It’s like history repeats itself or something! When I lose my keys, I panic and freak out and look everywhere for them. Then finally a light bulb will go off in my head and I will check the bottom of my backpack. And lo and behold, 99.99% of the time they are there. This past summer I was working at Sunset Lake camp and I lost my keys. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them and I needed them because I was going to drive home that evening for my day off. So what do you do when you are stuck in a pickle? You call your mom. I called her and she stopped what she was doing to drive 45 minutes to lend me the spare key. She put my needs above her own. When she came up, she asked if I had looked everywhere. A sickening feeling swept over my body as I realized I hadn’t checked my backpack. I zipped opened my backpack and dug to the bottom of it. Yes, dear reader, my keys were at the bottom of my backpack. My mom sacrificed her time to drive all the way up to camp only to find my keys in my backpack. My mom is the definition of love and sacrifice. She has taught me how to actively love and put others first. True love is loving even when it isn’t convenient or easy. True love is loving when it interrupts your day and forces you to place other people’s needs above your own. This is the love God has for us. But also, this is the type of love that He empowers us to give. How can you practice inconvenient love today?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.