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.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

We are commanded by God through the Apostle Paul to be imitators of God. Do what He does, say what He says, think what He thinks. Then Paul follows that up with another command, and that command just happens to be a particular pattern we can use in order to *be* imitators of God.

We are told to walk in love. We are told that Christ is the example for us. How Christ “walked” – what He said and did – is our pattern.

In the Sermon on the Mount, He said to love our enemies. In the sacrificial death of Jesus, following the horrific abuse by the religious leaders and the people, in which Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. What he said and did demonstrated love. As God in the flesh, He paid the price for our sins, and our forgiveness comes only through Him.

Matthew 19 (as well as Mark 10 and Luke 18) tells of a confrontation between Jesus and the rich young ruler. Here again we have a command to love. Jesus reminded the man of the command to love our neighbor. Now the focus of the passage is a deeper truth, which, unfortunately, the young man never claimed. This command that Jesus reiterated, and that Paul alluded to, is beyond us. We are not capable of the love that we are commanded to give and to live.

We saw how the young man was convinced, like so many others in his day and in ours, that he had loved his neighbor, and had honored his parents, and honored his wife, and kept himself sexually pure and treated others properly. But Jesus showed him that his heart was in his possessions, and that he was trusting in his own actions to redeem himself. The young man likely was not present at the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus made clear just how easily we fall into sin with our thoughts (see Matthew 5:21ff and 5:27ff).

We cannot love as we should outside of Christ. We are sinful people, and our acts of righteousness are worthless. We can only rely on the righteousness of Christ. Salvation means God grants us Jesus’ perfection and lays on Him the blame for our iniquities, our sins. There is nothing we can do except trust in His atonement. For an excellent sermon covering the primary message of this encounter, I recommend the one by John MacArthur on Matthew 19.

But there is another example that Jesus gives us in this encounter that we can learn from. Another way to imitate Him and walk in love.

Mark includes this … “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” (Mark 10:21) In our sinful nature, we are not loving. We are anything but loving. Especially in situations like this one.

The young man came to Jesus in ignorance. He was ignorant of the only way to acquire eternal life. How do we respond to ignorance? With impatience? With pride? With scoffing? With frustration?

The young man came to Jesus presumptuously. He believed he had been righteous, obedient. How do we respond to presumptuousness? With scoffing? With anger? Maybe we simply ignore the offender. Maybe with “How dare you??!”

He came to Jesus in vain – – at least for him. Jesus knows our hearts, and knows our past and our future. He knew the young man was trusting in himself. He knew the fellow would leave trusting in himself – and not heed Jesus’ words. We may not know the future, but oftentimes we can predict it pretty accurately. And when we know that someone is going to drop the ball, not follow through on their commitment, not “get it”, our reaction is typically not Christlike.

The young man interrupted Jesus. Mark tells us “And as [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mark 10:17 ESV)

How do we respond to interruptions? Frustration, disgust, impatience, anger.

And [the young man] said to him, “Teacher, all these [commandments] I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
(Mark 10:20-21 ESV)

Jesus responded in love. Notice that love doesn’t mean letting the young man off the hook. He still left Jesus unrepentant. But Jesus loved him.

God in His sovereignty will engineer all sorts of situations every day that are, to us, unfair, inconvenient, disruptive, “NOT OUR FAULT!!”, as opportunities for us to respond in love. Will we lash out or love? Will we lose our temper or love? Will we leave or love?

What Will We Do?

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3 Responses to WWWD?

  1. Pingback: The Purposeful Walker (Phil 3:15-19) | Dr Ken Baker

  2. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

  3. Jim Boling says:

    Matthew/Kumi – thank you for taking the time to respond to my thoughts on our response to Christ. I understand your desire to seek to be obedient to our Lord.

    We may discuss a great deal in Scripture – the question of whether Paul was right or wrong in having Timothy circumcised, for example, as you have expressed opinions about elsewhere. But without a common acknowledgement of the inspiration of the Word of God, including its inerrancy, we don’t have a very stable common ground on which to debate doctrine.

    I strongly encourage you to reconsider prayerfully your skepticism and outright denial of Paul’s teaching, which is part of the inspired word of God, especially if you are pastoring a church. There are grave consequences communicated in the Word for proclaiming something other than the truth from a position that claims to be biblical.

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