And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:2
I want to suggest a couple of things about what it means to walk in love. To walk in love is to:
Seek God for Himself Alone
It is unfortunate, but many times we seek God only as a means to an end. We see him as our heavenly ATM -- someone we come to when we need some 'quick cash.' We expect that if we push the right buttons, he will deliver what we want out of an inexhaustable bank account of divine resources. After all, if he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, why shouldn't we eat steak!
Experience has taught me that God will not be found solely for the purpose of being used. Notice what Jeremiah says,
"Ye shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all you heart." Jer. 29:13
"When you..." is the key phrase. Selfish seeking does not lead to finding, it is the source of frustration, anger, depression and, in the exteme case, "failed faith." If we look at God as primarily a spiritual ATM to solve our problems, ease our pain, provide for our well-being or shelter us from suffering, we will be sorely disappointed. He will not be reduced to the level of a tool.
The question then becomes, "if God is not going to be the source of "blessing" for those who seek to use Him rather than seek to love and know Him, who is?" Frankly speaking, it is the enemy of our souls. It is the strategy of Satan to lay a false foundation for our faith by disconnecting the delivery of blessing from a total heart-connection to the Blesser. Satan seeks to turn us into transactional Christians who are expecting a quid pro quo for our faith. We will 'love' God if he comes through for us. If not,we feel justified in walking away like some of the disciples did when they heard the 'kind truth' from Jesus in the book of John.
"This low and false view of Deity is one major reason for the immense popularity God enjoys these days among well-fed Westerners...the God of the poor has become the God of an affluent society." A. W. Tozer, Man - The Dwelling Place of God
To walk in love is to seek God entirely for the joy, blessing and privilege of knowing Him. It is to walk 'care-less' of propserity, security, or tangible earthly blessing. It is loving him with all of our being and desiring to know him above all else. Walking in love is to walk like Jesus, who recieved from the Father provision, authority, and blessing, as well as rejection, suffering and the cross.
Live Beyond 'Secular' and 'Sacred'
Walking in love is to live a completely integrated life. There is no dividing line between our 'spiritual' lives and the rest of our existence. Everything is a complete and perfect whole in love.
"The man that walks with God will see and know that for him there is no strict line separating the sacred from the secular. He will acknowledge that there lies around him a world of created things that are innocent in themselves...." A.W. Tozer
"Whatsoever you ..." then becomes the watchword of daily life. That means that everything I engage in is done in the awareness of the presence of God. In knowing that he is with me constantly, I can be set free from grinding doubt, fear, reluctance, timidity and everything else the hinders the free flow of 'new life' in me. To walk in love is to walk in that compete freedom of a totally holistic life with God. I am the same person regardless of where I am. No masks. No posing. No pretention and pretending. I am a man authentic in the world, because I am walking contually in the love of God.
Live Beyond 'Friend' and 'Enemy'
The second commandment is like the first.
And [the] second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39
The idea of neighbor is 'fellow man'. It is insightful that the scripture does not make a distinction with regard to the disposition, moral standing, orientation or like-ability of that neighbor. To walk in love is to have the same disposition toward all men that we have toward ourselves. We are to extend ourselves to all the 'others' we come in contact with in exactly the same way -- with Christlike humility, lowliness and genuine desire for their well-being.
This should put an end to all the evangelical 'jihads' against those of different ethnicities, sexual orientations or social standing. I am to love the muslim, the homosexual, the rich, the poor, the educated, and the ignorant in exactly the same -- as myself! I am always astounded when, as evangelicals, we engage in bitter and hateful rehtoric against certain groups of people and then maintain that we want to win them to Christ! How does the language of hate ever communicate the love of God?
I do not have to accept or condone a theology, philosopy or life style in order to love that neighbor as myself. God loved us when we were still sinners! Paul says, 'and such were some of you' when he admonishes the Corinthians about their behaviour before they were redeemed. I love my neighbor becuase I see them through the eyes of God and love them with the heart of God. I recognise the dignity and eternal value of that soul and therefore I freely open my heart to them as Christ did to me.
Live Beyond Fear and Fretting
I think that there is often a back channel of fear running through the lives of most, if not every, man and woman. That fear, manifested in a variety of ways, drives a grasping, often desparately selfish approach to life. Most of us, paticularly believers, cover our fears with a mask of 'everything is just fine', but when circumstances and situations get extreme, the true colors of that fear gets exposed.
Our fear comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. We fear we will not be accepted. We fear for our health. We fear for our prosperity. We fear for the future of our children. We fear for what's going to become of us in our old age. And sometimes we even fear for our eternal state. That fear is the result of not walking in love.
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. I John 4:18
Fretting is the outworking of our fear. To fret is to be 'eaten up' by things we cannot control. It is different than the weighty concern that accompanies a spiritual burden. Fretting is characterized by irritability, frustration and anger. It manifests itself in our striking out at the source of that frustration or by attempting to bury it. Striking out just wounds the innocent, while trying to burying it just feeds the fire rather than resolving the issue. Unresolved issues are always buried alive in us. Again, the only remedy is to walk in love!
To walk in love is to walk with our heart's affection directed totally towards God, absolutely confident in His loving intentions for us and a willingness to extend ourselves to others without fear or fretting.