Walk in Love (Ephesians 5:1-21, from the English Standard Version)
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, l as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Walk in Love. The model is our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the Apostle John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18) In a similar fashion, the Lord’s brother James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) James expands on that, saying, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17).
Walking is a verb that infers movement and action. In the Scriptures, we are often told to stand against evil, but to walk in righteousness. We should be ever striving, progressing, pressing, walking toward our Lord. We should make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, to grow in grace, and in godliness, brotherly affection, and love… that we may be fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord (2 Peter 1:5-8). Just as a tree must “give up” its fruit, so we believers must sacrifice the fruit that God has labored to bring about in us—that we may feed our brothers and sisters and provide nourishment to the body. Walking in love means carrying the cross and bearing one another’s burdens. Walking in love means giving of oneself, both joyfully and painfully. Walking in love is sacrificing willingly so provide for someone else. Love is an action verb; it is visible, not auditory only. This is how our Lord taught us to walk in love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:16)
Walk as children of the light. The Apostle John demonstrates both in his gospel as well as his first epistle, the similitude between God and light. Light represents truth. Light chases away the shadows of darkness, and exposes everything that was once hidden or concealed beneath its veil. God’s word, as the direct revelation of Himself to us, is likewise light, or as King David stated, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” The truth brings to light the unfruitful deeds of darkness, and exposes them for what they are.
The Apostle Paul refers to this same quality of light in the opening chapter of Romans when he says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21)
John draws a parallel in the beginning of his gospel between the Word (or Logos) and the Light; they are nearly synonymous and are manifested so perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ that John simply states that Jesus is the Word, and that “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Other translations say the darkness could not comprehend it… could not make sense of it. To walk as children of the light, is to walk in obedience to the truth of God’s Word, and to live in such a way that the Truth of His Word is reflected in our lives, exposing the darkness not only in our own lives, but that exposes the sins in the lives of others.
Walk, not as unwise but as wise… making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:15-21. The fool’s land had produced plentifully and he decided (because he was covetous) that he would build another barn and store up his material abundance, saying to his soul that he would live off of his abundance for many years, and would eat, drink and be merry. But that very night, his soul was demanded of him, and Jesus ends the parable stating, “So is the one who lays up treasure for Himself is not rich toward God.” Jesus also says in Matthew, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). In the verses just preceding that Jesus is instructing that whoever wants to save his life must lose it, and that anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must deny themselves, and pick up their cross. There are many today who claim to be Christians–who say Lord, Lord but who walk the broad way–who know they aren’t really following Him and who would like to believe that one day that will really get around to serving Him… just not now. These men and women are like the rich fool; they are walking in the counsel of wicked. They are walking as unwise, as unbelievers, disobedient to the Way and the Word of God. We should walk in joyful obedience to His commandments. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:16)