Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
By Jim Cymbala
When babies are born, the hospital staff immediately checks for certain vital signs. Good breathing, a robust cry, adequate weight are all indicators of a newborn’s strong physical health. Likewise, spiritual vital signs can tell us how healthy we are. And the most vital sign of all is love.
When we become born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we receive a new heart and spirit. This is nothing less than the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. Without Him, there is no true Christian experience. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
Since the Holy Spirit in us is God, and since God is love, then the essence of the one dwelling within us is divine love. No wonder Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colosse, he told them how he thanked God when he learned of “the love you have for all God’s people” (Colossians 1:4). Notice the spiritual health of that congregation. It wasn’t measured in attendance figures or magnificent buildings but in what really counts before God — love. And not just love for some people who were easily lovable or with the same ethnic background. No, he rejoiced in their reputation for loving all the people of God.
Too often, if people are “different” — meaning not our color or ethnicity, or not a part or our congregation or denomination — their plight in life rarely touches our hearts. God sent Jesus into a world that was as different or “other” to His holy nature as one could imagine. His Holy Spirit enables us to “be imitators of God . . . and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).