“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 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.” Ephesians 4:32-5:2
As a troublemaker growing up, I would cringe when my mom yelled my full name at the top of her lungs. “William David Berglund!!!” When she used my middle name, I knew I was in trouble. I knew I was caught and there would be consequences for my actions. Yet, I clearly remember my parents’ desire to communicate love to me in the midst of discipline. They wanted the best for me. By saying my full name, they were reminding me of who I was, of whose family I was a part of. They wanted me to live into my true identity. who I was.
As an athlete and a border-line perfectionist, I struggled with my identity. I was blessed with a strong family, but I had coaches who were tough on me and I was even harder on myself. As a result, I just figured that God was always disappointed in me. I should know better, I should get my act together. If I did the right things often enough, then God would love and accept me. This often led to feeling inadequate. Spiritual disciplines felt tedious and task-driven. I hoped I read the Bible and prayed “enough” so that I could measure up.
By God’s grace, I’ve had great mentors and friends walk with me over the past ten years. I’ve come to see God in a new way. Through faith in God’s free gift, I belong to His family. I am made new. This new perspective radically changed the way I read Scripture. I had always read it, “Do this and then God will love you.”
But listen to the language in Ephesians 4:32-5:2. We are dearly loved children. That’s who we are. As a result, we are called to walk in love and follow God’s example. We are forgiven by God in Christ. This is the foundation for us to forgive and love others. What we do comes from who we are. The order is not reversed! What a beautiful reality! We find this pattern all the time in Paul’s writing. We live from God’s approval, with our identity rooted in Him, rather than for God’s approval, hoping we measure up. We are saved by grace and then designed for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Today, reflect on this wonderful truth. How would it change your view of yourself or the way you read Scripture? What would it mean for you to live in grace and approach life knowing you are loved and accepted in Christ?
By Billy Berglund