Have you given an offering to God recently? I was prompted to consider this question recently as I was reading the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In the text from Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2, Paul gives the young church guidelines for a new life in Christ, one that they are to live not so much as individuals, but as a new community formed in Christ. At the end in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5 he writes: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So the sacrifice to God Paul calls the young church and Greenwood to offer God is to love one another in a self-sacrificial way as Jesus himself did for us.

That is really hard isn’t it? For it would take us to give up our own agendas, our own fears, our desire not to change, our hates and prejudices, our self-indulgences in order to make this sacrifice to God. And I think we really cherish all these things for to lose any of them would mean to lose a part of who we think we are – that is we would have to give up our selfish and culturally bound image in order to become as God desires us to be.

What we might look like if we did make this sacrifice is what Paul offers as rules for a new life in the text from 4:25 – 32:

  • We would not speak falsehoods to each other, but the truth out of love. That is a good place for the people Greenwood to begin.

  • Paul then writes it is okay to be angry, but do not let the sun go down on your anger. That is something Regina and I practice regularly. We do not hold grudges against each other letting them go before the sun goes down us.

  • Then Paul gives sound advice to thieves, give up your stealing, make your wages honestly, so you might give something to the needy.

  • Let your words give grace to others. Grace are gifts given out freely without obligation. So build up others, even though in your estimation they do not deserve it. But do it from the heart that has Christ’s love at the center. Anything else would not be an honest sacrifice.

  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Good advice for all of us, for most of us have grieved the Holy Spirit at some time.

  • Then Paul writes to the church they are to forgive as Christ has forgiven them. That is they are to put aside “bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted.”

 So I desire to encourage you all this week, and every week, to make an offering to God that will be pleasing and of a fragrant aroma that is full of the same love that Jesus had for us when he went to the cross and died with forgiveness on his lips.