“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.
The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises
and faithful in all He does.
The Lord is righteous in all His way
and faithful in all He does.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His holy name
for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:8, 9, 13b, 17, 21
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
- So, who am I imitating?
Children imitate! They imitate their parents, they imitate their siblings…friends…people they see on t.v (scary!!!)…etc. My 1 1/2 year old daughter has started imitating what we say, how we say things (mainly, NO…and she has started to say it only the way I say it when I am emphatically saying it for the third or fourth time to one of the older boys. She’s decided an emphatic NO should be the answer to most everything we say.) Not only words, but I see my children imitate facial expressions and gestures. And I know when the imitations did not come from a good source! (That’s my favorite imitation photo above…Oh Lord, let her imitate more of my good moments then my bad ones!!)
- So, again, who am I imitating?
- If our children, friends, or people around us, are imitating us, don’t we want them to imitate us imitating God?!!!
- So…how exactly do I imitate God?!!!
Let’s go to the source of all Truth and see how the Word says we can be “imitators of God as beloved children.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- Do I love my enemies? Do I pray for the people who do wrong/have done wrong to me? Verse 45 says to do these things “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”.
We all know that, on this side of heaven, perfection is not attainable!! Ours is a slow process…a “one step forward two steps back” kind of process. (Thankfully “…He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust!!” Psalm 103:14)
But our standard is our Father in heaven…our standard is Christ. It is Him alone that we are to imitate. We will look more like Him daily if He is the only One we set our hearts and minds on as our standard.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
- (Here’s the “love your enemies” thing again!)
- Am I “doing good”…am I looking out for the benefit of others, or only looking out for myself? (We also see this in Philippians 2:3-7…“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men…”
- Am I generous, expecting nothing in return? How many times has God given to us and received no thanks in return? (Ouch, right??)
- Am I kind…even to “ungrateful and evil men (or…women)?” ←Not easy.
- Am I merciful…do I show compassion and forgiveness when I feel like I have the “right” to hold a grudge? Not one of us has been offended more than we ourselves have offended God Himself with our sinfulness!! We are to imitate the compassion and forgiveness that He has shown us. (We can admit it…this is all HARD to do!!!)
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…”
- Do I go about my day grumbling about the tasks set before me? Or do I give thanks in ALL THINGS?
- Do I find myself arguing and disputing, or am I in pursuit of peace in all things?
This verse reminds us that these things…doing all things without grumbling or disputing…set us apart as children of God and we appear as lights in the world!!
That’s what we want, right?!!
We reflect God when we choose joy and peace over grumbling, complaining, and arguing. Those things…grumbling, complaining, arguing, are easy to do…they are common. It’s just weird to be joyful in struggles. To praise God when things are hard. To do mundane tasks without complaining. It’s different…UNcommon…set apart…it’s the HOLY way. When we are different…set apart…holy as He is holy…(1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy…”)…we shine as bright lights in this dark world.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
As we walk, imitating Christ, we will shine brighter and brighter until He comes back! As we love others as He loved us, forgive others as He forgave us, our path through life will be like the light of dawn. Keep imitating Him…keep walking in the Light of His perfect Love!!
Father, You are the perfect Father!! It is You and You alone that I want to look like! I want to go only where You are, speak only what You would speak, think only what You would think. I want to react only as You would react to every person and in every situation. I want people to tell me that I look more like my Father every day. That I have Your eyes. That I sound like You. That I walk like You. My heart’s desire, Father, is to look like You. Help me, teach me. Let me be a bright light that points to You, my perfect Father. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
“Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you…”