Last week, Nicole and Sharon examined a whole boatload of wisdom. Today, they dive deeply into what it means to "live a life of love." God's greatest commandments to us are to love Him and love others. It's harder than it sounds. Share in the discussion, today, friend. How do you handle it when loving people is far from easy? How can you be known as a person filled with God's wonderful love? Join us.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
Is your world a little crazy and off kilter at the moment, feeling a bit frazzled? Well then, you’ve found the perfect place to regain some quiet today. Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast, where we study his Word and encourage one another. The Sweet Selah Moment Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. How are you at loving others? I have to admit some people are harder to love than others. We’re going to tackle that subject today on our podcast. This episode is episode 76 Live a Life of Love. Sharon, how about you? How are you at loving others?
I’m a work in progress.
I like that.
I’ve actually learned some hard lessons about the high cost of bitterness and anger in my life and how it negatively affected my children when I did not love. This command really is for our own good. Love is the better way. You know, I think it’s easier to love others if you are confident that you yourself are loved. I really think that makes a difference, even than it’s hard. But if someone grows up in a dysfunctional home where love was offered conditionally or even erratically, like you never knew which version of your parent you were gonna get, the nice one or the mean one, or maybe even not at all, then you’ve kind of got PTSD stuff going on (Nicole: Oh yeah) surrounding feeling loved. So it makes it harder for people who have that in their past (Nicole; Oh, for sure, yeah) to love others. You know, we’re not all starting from the same place, an environment as a child can make you feel so vulnerable about reaching out because you’re afraid of getting hurt, that even as an adult, it’s a hard thing to do. So I wanna go gently, as we talk about living a life of love, we’re all on a journey. And we start at different places due to no fault of our own, depending on our backgrounds. So some of us are doing well even to move forward (Nicole: Yes absolutely) in living a life of love. Right?
And as you say that, I think of that verse in 2 Corinthians, the one where God says “My grace is sufficient for you” and that his power works best in our weaknesses.
So God gives us so much grace and he’s able to work through us in whatever stage we are in, in loving others or in healing, from not being loved well by other humans.
But he does want us to take steps in the right direction no matter how small, so Sharon let’s get, let’s just dive right in and see what Ephesians has to say about living out love.
Let’s do it. It’s our Sweet Selah Moment where we know it’s right because it’s God’s word. But you know, Paul has an interesting approach to this subject in Ephesians 5. He starts out with a command to live a life of love, but then he moves directly into talking about what it looks like to not live a life of love. So he’s pretty blunt.
Yeah, he is.
We’re gonna read the whole passage first and then break it down. So would you start us off?
Sure. We’ll be reading Ephesians 5:1-20. And I’ll start with verse one, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.”
“Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.”
“Obscene stories, foolish talk and coarse jokes, these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”
“You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”
“Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.”
“Don’t participate in the things these people do.”
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light.”
“For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness, instead expose them.”
“It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.”
“But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them.”
“For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said ‘awake Oh sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will give you light’.”
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.”
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”
“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
“Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
“Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”
“And give thanks for everything to God, the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You know, I feel like we could do a podcast on every verse.
I know there’s a lot of richness in here.
So good. No kidding. Yeah. So there we are. And we are gonna dig in and try to understand what living a life of love looks like from these verses today. But let’s stop for a minute and remember last week when we read that boatload of advice. (Nicole: Yes) With wisdom, wisdom, we gleaned five specific themes from all the instructions Paul gave, and I’m just gonna remind us of them here, we’re to choose the light, be a truth teller, be self controlled, handle money and possessions with integrity, use words to help and heal. So now Paul’s really adding a sixth, it’s kind of a summary of all that he said so far, because living in love means we will choose the light. That we’ll be a truth teller and all the other things that we learned. And of course this was a letter, there were no chapters and verses when Paul wrote this.
Oh, that’s right.
He didn’t write, ‘and chapter three’. Right?
He just wrote a letter. People divided it up for easier reference to find different places in the letters.
Forgot about that.
Yeah. But they weren’t there. So we have to remember that what we did last week flows into what we did this week. That chapter four flows into chapter five. (Nicole: Right) There really isn’t a divide. So. So let’s start with the first two verses again of Ephesians 5, Nicole.
Sure. “Imitate God, therefore in everything you do, because you are his dear children live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Hmm. All right. So what do we learn about living a life of love from those two verses? Tell me.
It says we need to imitate God by following the example of Christ and his example of love was that he offered himself as a sacrifice for us.
I don’t think we can find a more profound example of love anywhere. Jesus set the bar pretty high with that act of love.
He sure did. You know the missionary Amy Carmichael used to say all the time, ‘oh, this is a chance to die’ when she did something sacrificial, you know how we’re to die to ourselves? (Nicole: Yes) We’re to live sacrificially. So, um, there’s two pieces of cake left and three people. (Nicole: Right) ‘Oh, this is a chance to die’, she’d say, ‘I’m gonna die to self and give you two the pieces of cake’.
Only I feel like hers are more profound than that, but I even have trouble giving up a piece of cake. Right? So, but, Elizabeth Elliott wrote a book by that title, ‘A Chance to Die’. Amy Carmichael saw it as, as a good thing. This is how to live sacrificially. I am looking for chances to live sacrificially. That’s how I love. Right?
Yeah. We all could look at it that way.
Oh my goodness. Yes.
To love others and put them first.
Put them first.
And Jesus set the bar high.
Yeah. He literally died. (Nicole: Yeah) You know, but we die little deaths when we let go of selfishness and choose it happily.
Oh, another chance to sort of crucify my flesh and live the way I’m supposed to.
Wow. I need to adopt that attitude.
Oh yay. I know. Okay. So now after those two verses Paul completely seems to change his direction. So interesting. He starts talking about living in an unloving wicked way. So I’ll read the next section, Ephesians 5:3-9. He’s just told us to live a life of love. So now he tells us what is not love. “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, coarse jokes. These are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who tried to excuse these sins for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light for this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” Oh boy, that’s quite a list, huh?
A boatload of ‘don’t do’s’. Right?
Um, I suspect that his readers, Paul’s readers were guilty of at least one or two things on that list because I know I am. (Nicole: Yeah) Oh my goodness. Greediness is idolatry.
That was a hard one.
Yeah. It’s not just like a little stone statue you’re bowing down to, it’s anything that takes first place in your heart. So, all right. I’m gonna look at them one at a time and figure out what is unloving about them. And I’m going to start with sexual immorality and impurity, which I think are pretty closely related. Okay. Why is that not loving? Well, in my own case, I’ve made a commitment to Ray, my honey. And one of the distinctive, exclusive marks of a marriage is that we are not only allowed to, but we are blessed to become one flesh together. It’s exclusive. It’s beautiful. It gets sweeter over time. It’s a wonderful way to affirm the uniqueness of our covenant relationship. It would not be loving for me to take what is exclusively Ray’s and give it elsewhere in any measure. I am his. Love keeps our hearts and bodies saved for the other. Then there’s no betrayal. There’s no comparisons. It’s good. And that act of being one flesh,. I believe it’s God’s way of knitting us closer together in love. (Nicole: For sure) It says, this is just for us. I love it. It’s precious and unique to marriage from a Christian perspective anyways.
So your turn, Nicole, what’s next on the list?
Greed. Greed is next. Greed feels like the exact opposite of love. Doesn’t it Sharon?
It does. Yeah. Yeah.
Think about it, where love is poured out or lavished on others, giving of ourselves and what we have selflessly, greed is tight-fisted, clenching onto what we have while not even seeing what we already have and being, you know, kind of thankful for it (Sharon: Mm-hmm) but looking for more and more without considering the cost to others, this is not at all living a life of love.
It is not. It’s very selfish. (Nicole: Yeah) You’re right. You’re right. Well, verse 4, here we go. I get three vices in verse 4 and they’re all related to the mouth. And it’s actually the first time Paul provides an antidote too. So he says, “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and couase jokes, these are not for you”.
I love that.
I know it.
It’s not for you.
“These are not for you. Instead let there be thankfulness to God.” So Okie-dokie. When we tell stories that either mock people or belittle women or men reducing them to their bodies or a commodity, we are not acting in love. When we treat people as less than the valuable creations they are by reducing them to a coarse joke that is not loving. Now some humors’ okay. But anything obscene or coarse, or even foolish is not. Paul’s pretty clear here. You know, this reminds me of a very interesting occasion that, um, happened to Ray and me. We were with his battalion and we were in Austria for the weekend. It was some kind of a working retreat where the guys could bring their wives. (Nicole: Oh, nice) And we were sitting at dinner and we were just talking and one guy remembers this terribly obscene joke evidently. And he starts to tell it and Nicole, everything is always on my face. So I must have looked like, ‘Oh no, Oh no, he’s gonna tell a dirty joke. I don’t wanna hear it’. You know? And I don’t wanna walk out because that would make him embarrassed. And it would make me embarrassed, but I don’t wanna hear it. He stopped in the middle of the beginning of the joke.
And he went ‘Oh Sharon, sorry’ to me.
Oh, just to you. That’s so sweet.
I know. He said, ‘okay guys, I got lots of these, come on up to my bedroom’.
Oh, my word.
So the entire battalion leaves us laughing and chuckling to go upstairs and tell dirty jokes in a bedroom. Right.
It’s so creepy.
It’s really creepy. So Ray and I are sitting there looking at each other and we’re like, oh wow, we’re free. So we went out and we went to this little cafe (Nicole: Oh!) where we got warm apple strudel with, they do this vanilla sauce that’s warm (Nicole: Yeah) poured over it. It’s like a liquid. Oh, it’s so good.
It sound amazing!
It was so delicious. And we just talked together and we walked home in the moonlight, with the moonlight shining on the Alps, breathing in mountain air. And I thought, oh Lord, Jesus, this is so much better—than what would have happened.
Than dirty jokes in a bedroom.
So, and I didn’t have to lecture him. He wasn’t, he wasn’t a Christian. He wasn’t under those rules, like I was, right? But he saw, so it was really nice.
Oh, I like that story.
You know, it’s true though. Like if we’re, I think if we’re living a life that follows Christ, our life will speak for us and people will know and hopefully temper their language and stories around us. So it’ll be easier to avoid these things, you know? (Sharon: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm) When I was a teenager I worked at JC Penney’s and many of my fellow employees would swear constantly or whatever. And whenever they were around me, they would always apologize, which I thought was really sweet. I never outright said like, I’m a Christian, so don’t swear around me.
But they must have gathered from me not swearing or telling dirty jokes that it was something I tried to avoid.
I love it. I love it.
So, you know, sometimes we don’t— I think I used to be afraid we had to like make a big stand and you should not be, you know, (Sharon: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm) and preach at them, but that’s not gonna bring them to Christ.
Absolutely not. And again, if they haven’t come to Christ, why would they follow our rules?
Right, cause they don’t have that truth.
So, uh, Sharon, what is the antidote to all of this (Sharon: Yes) foul talk and dirty jokes?
Here we go. The antidote, according to Paul is thankfulness to God. We need to be thankful for the people in our lives and grateful for all the good gifts, not sarcastic and mocking, not demeaning, dirty jokes, demean, the human body.
They devalue it. Yeah. I like that.
Instead, thankfulness. There you go.
Yeah. That’s a good one. Well, Paul then finishes up with a warning to the people of Ephesians. We have to remember that they lived in this dark culture full of idolatry and even demonic activity.
So he wants to be clear to them that they can’t live like they used to. They are to be different now. So I’ll read this section for us. “You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have the light from the Lord so live as people of the light for this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
So Paul is telling us here that Christians are to be a light to others. And it’s just like you and I are mentioning in our stories, it doesn’t necessarily mean lecturing people or coming off as holier than thou, because you know, that will certainly turn people away from us and they won’t wanna ask about God.
No, they won’t. They’ll be like, okay, just another reason not to be a Christian right?
Exactly. So if we’re just, we just need to let our differentness shine in all we do. So when people ask why we’re not doing these things, we can say it’s because of Christ and what he’s done in our own lives. And we can easily point others to Jesus without trying too hard.
But just living differently when we follow his commands, we will attract attention and then we can easily point them to the source of our unique behavior.
This is so true. This is so true. The Holy Spirit is the one that convicts, not us anyways. You know, if we walk around feeling this, you know, obligation all the time to make sure everybody gets every minor point of doctrine right when they don’t know God, (Nicole: Mm-hmm) just live it. Share when people ask my 1 Peter 3:15 verse that says always be prepared to give an answer for the reason, you know, be prepared to give an answer. But it doesn’t mean that, you know, we sit someone down and give them, you know, miles of lectures before they’re ready to hear it.
Exactly. Wait until God, until the Holy Spirit prompts and prepares their heart.
And we’ll know, because if we’re walking with him, we’ll know when the time’s right.
We will know, and it will open up to us. It really will. And it’s interesting to me that just not swearing and not gossiping about people sets a Christian apart. I’ve had the same thing you’ve had happen to me. Well, obviously when the guy’s like, oops, sorry, Sharon, in the middle of the dirty joke.
Right. You said nothing like why not the other wives, why you?
Right. Yeah, yeah. So, so we just have to not do it.
That’s it, you know? And then they’re like, wow, she never swears. That’s weird.
Yes, with just going to church Sunday, we had neighbors go, oh, you guys must be Christians. And I’m like, oh yeah. We see you leave early Sunday morning every, you know, it’s like, who’s getting up early on a Sunday? Just, just the crazy Christians.
That’s right. That’s right. And recently the nativity set I put out at Christmas time had a neighbor say, are you religious? I saw your nativity set. And I’m like, bingo. That’s why I put it out. Just sort of like advertisement. If you every wanna talk about religion and Jesus, (Nicole: Yes, Jesus) just come on over.
So, so fun. So fun.
All right. Well now Paul’s gonna finish this section up with more wisdom and again, remember that chapters and verses did not exist. So even after this passage, you know, it goes on to something else, but these are what we’re finishing up for today. So we’re stopping at verse 20, but there’ll be more. So alright. Here’s more instructions. Ephesians 5:10-20, this is a longer section. (Careful) This first one, I could just linger on it. “Carefully. determine what pleases the Lord.” (Nicole: Yes) Isn’t that—?
Don’t just whimsically run off and try, but carefully determine beforehand what’s pleasing to the Lord.
Oh, you know what? That’s the key isn’t it? It’s beforehand.
Yeah. Cause we’re terrible in the moment.
We are. And it’s really easy to be led astray. (Nicole: Yeah) But if we know beforehand that listening to smutty jokes that demean the human body is wrong, we’ve determined beforehand, okay, that is not for me.
Right. And then, you know, okay, so that was only verse 10. Perhaps I should read the whole thing and stop stopping.
So much in here.
Yep. “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. Instead expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret, but their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, ‘awake Oh sleeper, rise up from the dead and Christ will give you light. So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days, don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God, the Father in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Oh, there’s so much richness here.
I love Paul’s caution to carefully determine what does please the Lord. Life’s short and we’ve gotta make the most of every opportunity to share the love God wants us to share. So let’s not get bogged down in things that aren’t kind or not good or are not loving and focusing on pleasing ourselves. (Nicole: Yes) at the expense of others. Let’s not go there. I love, I love how the New Living Translation says it so bluntly, all of it, but this one, “Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life.” (Nicole: I know) Okay. Yeah, and it will.
No pulling punches.
Talk to a child who’s, or even an adult who was the child of an alcoholic.
You know how we talked about erratic love.
It can damage for several generations.
Yeah, of alcoholics. It’s erratic love, you know, you have one parent, who’s not the drinking parent. And then the same parent when they’ve drunk too much can be totally different.
And that messes with a little kid. They don’t know what they’re gonna get. Oh, don’t be drunk with wine. Yes.
It will ruin your life.
Mm-hmm. These rules God gives us they’re because he loves us.
I know. (Sharon: Right?) He’s not a big party pooper.
He really wants what’s best for us.
Yes. Yes. So, by hearing the God who is love’s voice and choosing activities that honor him and honor others, that’s how we learn love. And that’s how we live it out. So well, Nicole, I love this antidote at the end of the section. What’s the antidote to drunkenness and obscenity and immorality and all these things that God some day sadly is going to expose?
Yes. But for now the antidote, “Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts and give thanks for everything to God.” So singing, being thankful, being joyful in our hearts and giving thanks to God. But I like how this is like the, the replacement for being drunk with wine, almost. Like it’s almost like this same intensity of (Sharon: Yes, yes) you know, that consuming abandon that you get from over consumption of alcohol.
Be filled with the Spirit and singing hymns and songs and being thankful. So with that same exuberance.
But for his glory and his good, you know?
Yes, and we were just talking about our Easter worship service, where we were like really loud at church.
We were exuberant.
We were exuberant. He had risen from the dead and we were practically shouting. Yes. The songs and that’s, that’s the replacement. (Nicole: Yes) God’s not saying don’t have fun.
Right, (Nicole: Right) And honestly, Ray and I had more fun on that little quiet walk, thankful for the moon over the Alps, thankful for that breathing in of fresh air.
That sweet little impromptu date that you had instead of—
The holding of hands while we ate our apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce. So gut. It was awesome. (Nicole: Aw) So he’s not a killjoy.
He really isn’t. (Nicole: No) And singing for both you and I is a way to draw close to the Lord, isn’t it? Yeah. And putting on praise music sometimes if I’m in a bad place.
It changes my attitude so quickly.
Doesn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I really need to have a musician who’s gifted of the Lord lead me out of depression (Nicole: Yes) and into a place of joy.
Music can be so powerful.
This is wisdom.
Yes. And he knows music is powerful. He created us (Sharon: Mm-hmm) with this in us. Even if we can’t sing or if we can’t play an instrument, (Sharon: Right, right) it’s still, in our hearts, make music to God. Sing praises to him.
He doesn’t care what we sound like.
No, he doesn’t.
Sing loud and love him. And he’s so blessed by that.
Right. And we are so blessed in America because I mean, I have Spotify, I just click a button and someone sings with me.
Goodness gracious. But if we didn’t, we just sing in our hearts. I remember the missionaries that were in Afghanistan and were trapped years and years and years ago now, Dana and somebody else, they sang a couple of songs over and over again in captivity and it really helped them. (Nicole: Oh yeah) Just to remember Jesus and Paul and Silas might have started that trend in a prison. Right?
Oh yes. I forgot about that. That was great.
Yeah. So this goes way back, this singing hymns. So Paul, when he is suggesting this, he actually lived it out. He sang in prison, right?
It really does work.
Yes. It really does work. And then giving thanks for everything to God. Yeah. That’s another antidote is to remember how much we have to be grateful for. That leads us to joy as well.
And that’s an anecdote to so many of our ailments as sinful creatures.
Isn’t it, to give thanks to God.
Yeah. Just to remember what we do have.
It stops complaining. Yes. It’s so good for us.
It’s so good for us.
When in doubt give thanks.
Yes. Give thanks. So, okay. So the bottom line here is not to sit in judgment on those who don’t know Christ yet. If anything, we should feel grief for the alcoholic person, or for the man or the woman who treats the human body as just a commodity for their own pleasure. Instead, the emphasis in all of this is love. That’s where we Christians can get it wrong sometimes. We’re called to live differently. So we do, but we love others. (Nicole: Yes) We don’t lecture them into God’s kingdom, pointing out all their flaws and strutting about proudly because we’re better. We aren’t better. We are simply the happy recipients of God’s grace and love. And that makes all the difference. (Nicole: Yes) So let’s pray. Oh, heavenly Father, how I praise and thank you for your deep love for us and how that love is what draws us to you. Jesus, help us to draw others by your love, by our own actions, by our words. But especially by our love, help us to live that life of love this week. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Wow. We’ve covered a lot of hard things today, friends. We want you to know that God is love and light and his own dear people are called to live in special ways. And that the way we draw others toward the light and the love of Christ is through living a life of love. May it be so in your lives and ours. And when we fail, let’s humbly ask forgiveness and rejoice once more that the God who loves us will love us even then and help us back on our feet again. We’d love to chat more about this if you want to write us at SweetSelah.org/podcast. Donations are always a blessing. You can donate at SweetSelah.org/donations. Become a podcast partner and receive our E news once a month. Next week, the advice continues. We’ll be talking about husbands and wives specifically. Episode 77 is called Marriage Lessons. God bless you. And may he help you live a life of love all week long.
Speaker 1 (28:05):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word, Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found at SweetSelah.org. Thank you for joining us.
You can download and print the transcript here.