John Riley | 09 March 2020
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Every time I read the phrase “and walk in the way of love” my twisted mind pictures someone intentionally trying to block someone’s path. Well, not someone’s, specifically – love’s path. I picture someone getting in love’s way. Then, I ask myself to not be so silly and please think about this the right way; it’s saying, follow love down the path or follow love’s path. This is the path that Christ made for us. He founded it, was its trailblazer, and he also laid the steps of the path, or paved it for us through his sacrifice, through his death.
Paul describes this death as a fragrant offering to God. When I think of fragrant offerings, I immediately remember smelling charcoal briquets cooking steaks in my neighborhood or the scent coming from Phil’s BBQ when I’m driving on the freeway in San Marcos with my window down, or, my favorite, the moment I walk into The Wrangler Family BBQ in Escondido and the aroma of wood cooked meats greets me at the door.
The Bible describes activities that become fragrant offerings to God. Revelation 5:6-10 is a vision of heaven and the creatures that surround God’s throne. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Believer’s prayers become an incense or fragrant offering in God’s presence, a beautiful picture.
In Genesis 4:4, Abel brings an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering. Then, Paul uses the phrase “fragrant offering” in Ephesians 5:2 as a reflection of what the priests would do every day. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord (2 Chronicles 13:11). These offerings were meat cooked on an altar (grill). The smell was a gift to God, but the food was what sustained the priests and all the Levitical families who were supported by the offerings of God’s people.
LIVE THE STORY: Find a way to sacrifice (walk in the way of love) today, so that what you give up becomes a sweet offering to God that will provide sustenance for the people you are caring for.