Imitating God

God wants us to imitate Him.  Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”  Young children learn by imitating their parents.  We learn how to walk, how to talk, how to use a fork or spoon, and many other things by seeing and hearing our parents do these things.  There may be instruction from our parents and that combines with what we see them do.  Sometimes we find it amusing to see a young child walking behind his father, imitating how he walks, how he uses his tools, how he stands, how he puts his hands on his hips, etc.  It is natural for us to imitate our earthly fathers and it certainly is natural and necessary for us to imitate our heavenly Father. Of course, there are ways that we cannot be like our Father in heaven.  He is almighty. He is glorious. He is all knowing. He is everywhere. However, there are characteristics of God that He wants us to imitate and to be like Him.  Let us look at some of these.

Love. One way we are to imitate our heavenly Father is in love.  We are told that God is love (1 John 4:8).  1 John 4:10-11 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Not only should we be characterized by love as God is love, but we are to love all persons as He loves them.  Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  We are to love all people to include our enemies just as God loves and blesses evil and good people with sun and rain.

Forgiveness. Another way we imitate God is in forgiveness.  Ephesians 4:32-5:2 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Colossians  3:12-13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” We should be immensely grateful for the forgiveness of our sins by God.  As a result, we will want to imitate God by forgiving others their trespasses against us.

Kind and Merciful. Our heavenly Father has been so kind and merciful to each of us.  Luke 6:35-36 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” God has been kind and merciful even to the unthankful and evil.  We can imitate God by being kind and merciful to all those around us.

Holiness.  What does it mean to be holy?  The idea behind the concept of holiness is “separation.”  God is separate from every other being; none are like Him.  1 Samuel 2:2 “No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” While we cannot approach the holiness of God, we are asked to also be holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” We are to separate ourselves from the world and be dedicated to God for His purposes.  We imitate God by being holy.

Righteousness.  God is a righteous God.  All of His actions are right.  We seek to imitate God in righteousness. 1 John 3:10 “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 2 Timothy 2:19 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” We imitate God by departing from iniquity and practicing righteousness.

Purity. 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” We imitate God by seeking purity in our lives. We seek to cast out all impurity.

Service. Do you remember when Jesus washed His disciples feet?  John 13:12-15 “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.’” As God the Father and Jesus have served us, we imitate them by serving one another.

The Fruit of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is to live within each of us as Christians.  We are to be led by the Spirit.  When we allow the Spirit to do His work in us, we will imitate God and produce His fruit in our lives. Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

I encourage you to imitate your Father in Heaven.

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