A Sacrifice to God

Yet we make out like bandits.

Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)

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.

Notice what this says. When Christ gave himself up for us, it was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Wait. What? Why was it a sacrifice to God? It says that Christ gave himself up for us.

This is an advanced point about why the plan of salvation is what it is. We like to think that the point of the plan of salvation is our salvation, but that’s just part of it. God’s glory is the real point, and our salvation – and how God achieves that – are the means to that end.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, —John 17:1 (ESV)

Jesus’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane reveals the principal purpose of the cross. That’s what Paul’s referring to in today’s verse when he writes of a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

So, we are to walk in love. That’s agape in Greek. We are to walk in charity. We are to walk in sacrifice.

That’s what Jesus did. Being imitators of God means walking as He did.

We should be incredibly grateful for how the plan of salvation works. It’s like we dodged a bullet. God didn’t have to save us; He could have glorified Himself some other way.

But we got lucky. God invented a plan for glorifying Himself where we make out like bandits.

Unfortunately, modern Christians tend to miss this point. We seem to take our salvation for granted – as if it isn’t ironic.

So, like everything else in America, there’s a distinct lack of drama. Modern American lives aren’t all that exciting; we’re almost never in danger (especially for our faith). Thus, the plan of salvation isn’t seen as exciting either.

Is it any wonder that our faith is as boring as our lives? By solving so many of the challenges of life, modern technology has made us complacent. Life is relatively safe. That’s good, but that safety allows us to let our guard down. We don’t need to be alert all the time to survive.

So, we are less alert. This has softened our perception of everything, including God. Our faith isn’t so much weak as it’s drowsy. It’s there, but it doesn’t command our attention. Nowadays nothing commands our attention. That’s why everything is so hyped. We’re screamed at constantly. Buy now!

Obviously, the answer isn’t to hype Christianity. That’d make it as phony as everything else. Taking the Lordship of Jesus seriously has to come from deep within. That’s the purview of the Holy Spirit.

The weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:


Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.