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.
I have often wondered about the prayer Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. The awesome power that Jesus had to command wind and waves and to raise the dead was humbled in His plea to be delivered from the cross. He could have miraculously hidden himself again or struck down a thousand soldiers by a word and yet He struggled and sweat blood as He yielded Himself to His Father’s will and the shame and suffering that lay ahead.
He could have prayed; “I know I have to die so let’s just get this over.” In sullen acceptance, but instead He yielded His heart in love. How often I have prayed and given grudgingly but without surrender? I dodge the bullet of disobedience but miss the mark of true sacrifice.
But because Jesus gave His life in loving obedience, Peter was brought to full repentance, Nicodemus had opportunity to be courageous and a thief was brought to paradise. A rich man had the chance to learn how to give and just three days later Mary Magdalene got to be the first to see Him risen and alive. These all received because Jesus gave himself willingly. They became a part of the fragrance of the offering of Jesus. So what about this morning? Will we surrender whatever is in our hands today to God? Will we willingly let go of what is ours to gain something for others? Will we surrender and follow our Lord and offer a sacrifice with a sweet fragrance to God today?
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV
When our cell phone rings, it is common for us to look at the number and decide whether to pick the call, reject it or just let it go to voice mail. But when I was a kid, a phone call was actually quite an event. Our only phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, and if it rang when mom had her hands in the dishwater, she would yell out, “Will somebody answer that please!” Then either my sister or I would run to pick it up. In those days, we couldn’t just say, “Hello!” Instead, we had to begin by saying, “This is the Jones residence; may I help you please?”
The Bible tells us about the most important call of all: the one from God. Some of us may be letting God’s call go through to voice mail because we are afraid of what we think He is planning. We picture being sent off to some scary place overseas or emptying our bank account to help the poor. But we are missing what God’s call is about. Today’s verse tells us that He is far more interested in who we are than in what we do. So, go ahead. Be brave. Pick up the phone because you just may discover that God is calling for us to be humble in how we think of ourselves and gentle in how we treat others. We also may find out He is asking us to be patient when things don’t happen as quickly as we hoped (which is often) and loving forbearance when people fail us. And with all the callings and messages we are hearing it is most important of all to remember that everything God asks of us, He has already done when He picked up His phone and answered our call for mercy!