Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly beloved 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.
Pleasant aromas comfort us. They bring peace and enjoyment. In a similar fashion, the apostle Paul says that Jesus Christ was a pleasant aroma to God the Father as he loved the church and gave himself up for her. Then, he calls on the church to imitate God in this way—to live as a pleasing aroma to the Father.
So secondly, Paul says to “walk in love.” “Walking” is a general sense of your character. Is your life characterized by love? In Galatians 5, Paul says to “walk in the Spirit.” In 2 Corinthians, he says to “walk by faith.” In Colossians, he says to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” There are things that should be general characterizations of and should always growing in those who profess Christ. But when Paul is asked to summarize the life that imitates God, he simply says, “walk in love.”
Love, as we’ve seen, is sacrificial if it’s anything. Godly love is costly. And there are practical outworkings of “walking in love.” Husbands should love your wives, but not in the same way the world loves. Husbands should love their lives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Children should honor their parents through obedience.
This is most clearly demonstrated in the incarnation, in Christ coming to this earth in the form of an infant. Because in doing so, Paul says in Philippians 2, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2.6-7).
We can hardly take hold of this, because you and I have never given up our divinity in order to become human. But when you look at the character, power, and holiness of God, and you think that Jesus put all of that aside for his earthly ministry, you see just what “walking in love” really looks like. It sacrifices your own good for the good of others.