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Three Stages of Christian Growth: Walk in Love is the First Stage

Walk in love as Christ loved us

The wonderful revelation in Ephesians lays out the three-stage growth of a Christian actively pursuing God’s will in his or her life.  In today’s post I’m going to talk about the first stage which is to “walk in love.” Here’s the text we will consider:

Ephesians 5:1-7  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

The apostle Paul lays out the example of following God by showing the love Jesus Christ has for each one of us. If we truly want to follow God, that is to pursue God’s will in our lives, we must begin by practicing the love of God in our relationship with others. The prime example is in how Jesus laid down his life for each of us.

Romans 5:6-8  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Imagine a young girl walking out into a street without seeing a truck heading straight toward her. You’re in a position to save her if you act quickly but it may cost you your life. What would you do? Love would cause you to act before you even thought about it. Fear would cause you to cower and watch her die. Did you realize that love is the opposite of fear before you read that?

I John 4:18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Herein lies a key for us in our relationship with God, our Lord Jesus Christ and with other people. Fear is a barrier to love. Fear, which is lack of confidence, causes us to act differently than we normally would if fear was absent.

However love overcomes fear. As it says in I John 4:18, “perfect love drives out fear.” Amazing. We have the answer to overcoming fear and that is to simply love. Now what possibly can we be so confident about that it would enable us to save that little girl even if it cost us our own life?

How about this:

Colossians 3:4  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

There it is.

Christ is Your Life

We died in Christ and were raised when he was raised. Christ is your life. God said it through the apostle Paul. Now believe it. Own it. Act on it. Realize that your identity is now Christ. You no longer live for yourself but for him.

Romans 6:8  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

[Note: I include Bible verses often so you know I’m not speaking out of thin air or from preconceived opinions. Anyone can say what they “think” the Bible says, but I quote it so you know where I’m coming from and so you can have confidence in God’s holy Word rather than in me.]

Doing something as noble as losing your own life in order to save the little girl’s is something few people would be willing to do. Most of us value our lives and we’re willing to help out as long as it doesn’t cost us our life. But the love of God goes beyond that. The love of God realizes this life is but a flash in the pan. This life is so short compared to all eternity that very little is gained out of making it our primary consideration.

Those who have no other goal than to get what they can out of this life are missing the boat on the riches they could be gathering for the age to come. Those who love this world more than they love God will never, in this life, experience the joy that God has for them.

Yes, walking with God may cost you your life — but God will raise you up again when Christ returns so what have you to fear?

In Ephesians 5, Paul goes on to define how we “walk in love.”

Ephesians 5:3-5  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Walking by the flesh is not walking in love. Messing people about, bullying, using people for your own agenda, even sexual lusts, are defined as the antithesis to love. “Take care of Number 1” is a common pursuit, but from what I’ve learned, God is “Number 1” — not you and certainly not me. If you truly care about Number 1 you’ll love others as Christ loved you.  Separate yourself from those who do the things listed above and instead walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.

You can pursue the flesh and the things of this world, or you can pursue God. The choice is yours. Walking in love is the very first stage of new Christian life. As we shall see in upcoming posts, it is actually the beginning and not the all-in-all. It’s the foundation upon which the next two stages of Christian growth are established. 

Stay tuned for Stage 2 of Christian Growth.

 

The original article is published here.

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