“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:2)
Before the foundation of the world, the Father commissioned the Word to become flesh – to live a perfect life among men; to die a perfect Lamb for men; to be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven and there be the perfect mediator between God and man, providing a perfect salvation to all who would call upon Him.
Jesus knew why He was in the world. From an early age He was about His Father’s business. He had work to do and a mission to accomplish. Did He do it for His glory? No, His stated desire again and again was “Father, glorify Your Name!” He knew why so many around Him were laboring. They sought honor of each other. But He told His disciples to not let their left hand know what their right was doing; to labor with a single eye toward heaven; to pray and give and fast in secret, so He who sees what’s done in secret would reward them openly.
No man has ever given as much to this world as Jesus Christ. But He did it all for the Father. No man has ever displayed so much glory and virtue. But He did nothing with an eye toward man’s approval. And the greatest gift of all – the laying down of His life on the cross – did not bring Him honor from men; it caused them to mock Him. To them, hanging on a cross proved He was accursed of God. Even to His disciples, the cross was not a victory, but a sign of failure. Such though did not matter to Him; He would do what the Father called Him to do without the need for anyone’s affirmation. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. His vindication would not come from men; it would wait until He returned to heaven, where He would be given a Name above all names.
God calls us to follow in the footsteps of His Son – who lived, died, and rose again for us. We are no longer to live for ourselves, we are to live for our precious Jesus and the Father who sent Him into the world for us. Our labor of, by, and for Him is not in vain. A reward awaits us if we do nothing to be honored of men.
God tries our hearts when we are despised and rejected; when our labors are unnoticed, unappreciated, and scorned. Whose glory are we living for: our own or God’s? Will we lose heart and become weary in well-doing because of man’s response? Yes, our work is a labor of love toward human beings; but not so they will recognize, praise, or appreciate us. Our one desire is to be a sweetsmelling savor to God. Let your life be an altar that captivates His senses.