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Religion Made Simple: Ephesians 5:1-2

Religion Made Simple: Love
John Witte

Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Last week we began our Religion Made Simple series with the declaration that the core of the Christian Faith was laid out by Paul when he wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Galatians 5.6.

Faith expressed in love is the core of the Christian Faith.

We also suggested that it is powerful to change lives when this core is undistorted by man-made additions. Everything works better when people who have believed in Jesus for eternal life love like Jesus in this life.

The core involves two parts:
  1. Believing in Jesus
  2. Loving like Jesus.

The Jesus life brings excellent advantages, but it is also challenging because of our human nature: We tend to use gifts for our own benefit.

In business, Insider Trading is the purchase or sale of stocks or other securities based on information that you have access to but is not available to other investors in the general public.

We know it’s wrong, but we often practice a version of it in our daily lives. Each of us use our advantages for our own benefit instead of using them to benefit others. For example:

It’s the shortcut through traffic that lets you shave 20 annoying minutes off your daily commute, but you never tell your friends about it.

Your buddy got a new smoker and wants to do a brisket. You’ve done 50, but you offer no advice to walk him through the process.

The new guy or gal at the office is given an assignment on Friday due on Monday. You know she had plans for the weekend, but now she’ll have to trash those. You were given that same assignment when you were new to the company. You know all the tricks that could save her a day and a half so she could knock it out on Saturday morning and still make the rest of her weekend plans with her friends, but instead of sharing what you know, you consider the assignment an initiation rite that’ll test just how committed she is.

We even do this with our own children. We know things that could benefit them, but instead of looking for the teachable moment, we are too busy adulting.

In the world of business and government, Insider Trading is illegal. In everyday life, it’s simply repulsive. So why do we adopt it as a way of life?

Last week we saw that every human being requires security and significance. Security is the need for love, and significance is the need for meaning. Our search for security and significance turns us into Inside Traders.

It has the power to turn us into people who not only believe in Jesus for eternal life but love like Jesus in this life. When we love Christ loved, it deals a death blow to Insider Trading. When we study Ephesians 5:1-2, we learn powerful truth.

The phrase “gave himself up for us” translates a Greek compound term (παραδιδωμι) that basically means to give over.

The word was heavily used in the gospel accounts to refer to Jesus being betrayed by Judas, arrested, and handed over to Pilate. It seems that Jesus had no choice in the matter. He was betrayed, arrested, and handed over to Pilate whether he liked it or not! This was what the Jewish leaders and Pilate thought. They thought they had taken Jesus by force, against his will. But in fact, this wasn’t true.

When Jesus was about to be arrested, you’ll recall that one of his disciples drew out his sword to defend him. But Jesus told him to put his sword back in its sheath. And then he said, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53

A Roman legion contained anywhere from 3,000-6,000 soldiers. If we go with an average of 4,500, twelve legions would equal 54,000 angels. So get the picture in your mind. At his arrest, Jesus could have acted as the ultimate Inside Trader! He had the ultimate advantage which no one else had or knew about, and he could have used it for his benefit! All he had to do was give the word. But Jesus never gave the word. He didn’t use his advantage to his own benefit. Instead, he willfully allowed himself to be betrayed, arrested, handed over to Pilate, and crucified. No one took Jesus’ life. He purposely gave it away!

This is what love is.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What advantages do you have?
  2. Are any of them tempting to keep exclusively to yourself?
  3. What are some ways you could bless others with these advantages? Why is that often hard to do?
  4. It’s easy to bless those who bless us. Jesus blessed those who sought to harm Him and take His life. What are some examples of people who are against you in your life? How can you bless them by not withholding your talents, treasure, or time?
  5. Is unforgiveness Insider Trading? Why or why not?

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