In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, a booming trade center, Paul wrote, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Oh, there’s so much in those few words! Before we dive in, though, I want to bring in the Amplified Version. That’s the translation from the original languages that makes allowances for the differences between them and English, expanding the words into concepts as the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek do.
“Therefore become imitators of God -copy Him and follow His example, as well-beloved children imitate their father; and walk continually in love – that is, value one another, practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God, slain for you, so that it became a sweet fragrance.”
See all of the goodness in that?
Do you remember when you were a little one, or remember your child as a little one, how you (or your child) would follow after Dad and try to do everything just like he did? Say the things he said? Walk the way he walked?
Children imitate their dads.
Remember how Jesus talked about having the faith of a child? This is part of that. Just like the young child trying to be just like Daddy, we’re supposed to follow, watch, and imitate our Heavenly Father.
And do you see? As believers, we are His well-loved and dear children! When you feel disappointed and left out remember this. You are dear to God. You are a well-loved child.
Once God gets us on that firm footing in our true identity, he tells us how we’re supposed to be treating other believers. We’re supposed to love and value each other, practicing empathy and compassion. We’re to unselfishly seek the best for our spiritual family.
In God’s estimation, this isn’t just a say-so love, this is sacrificial love. This is the “I was going to the grocery store, but my friend is grieving, so I’ll visit with her instead” kind of love. It’s the kind of love that placed and held Jesus on the cross. It’s this kind of love that isn’t just meaningful to the recipient, God sees it as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him.
I confess, I don’t always love all believers this way. I kinda hold back on those I don’t know. I’m not as generous as I should be.
The good news is, we can start today to live according to this word from God. We can choose to imitate God and seek His dearly loved children and lavish love on them. We can pour out blessings on them – and that doesn’t always include money.
Part of that imitation is always being truthful. No lies. Not even the little white ones.
It’s being merciful, giving life through forgiveness even though they don’t know what they did that needs forgiveness.
It’s lavishing grace on the undeserving.
It’s a lot!
We can’t get so caught up in thinking we have to act like God that we start to think we’re all that and a bag of chips.
When we study God and seek Him, we learn who He is and how He acts. Then we ask Him, through His Spirit, to act through us.
Let’s start today. Pick one attribute of God and strive to be that way. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
Tomorrow, pick another attribute.
Keep going, day after day, and soon, it will be so much a part of you that you won’t even think about it.
Love well today, my friends. It’s how unbelievers know we belong to Jesus (John 13:34-34).
Coffee, Bible, Journal.