Children imitate others, both other children and their parents. Have you ever seen a young child in a room full of adults who joins the adults in laughing at a joke, even though you know the child completely missed the joke? The child seeks to imitate the adults, so when they laugh at pun or a political joke far beyond his limited understanding, he joins in the merriment for no other reason than that he saw the adults laughing first. Just as young children learn by imitating their parents, God calls us to grow and learn by imitating Him.
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. Ephesians 5:1-2
We cannot imitate those attributes of God called his incommunicable attributes: His omniscience, for example, or his omnipresence or his unchanging, infinite nature. But God has other attributes that He calls us to have in common with Him, in our own limited human ability, and God highly values us sharing in His love.
The book of Ephesians reminds us right out of the gate that God has lovingly adopted us as son through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4). Paul later spends half of chapter two explaining how we have been included in the new covenant, a reality that means we are members of God’s household and have been given access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18-19). Here again in Ephesians 5:1, Paul again reminds us of our new status in the kingdom of God: beloved children. Though we were once dead in our sins and facing God’s just punishment for our sins, by His grace we have been saved and transformed into beloved children. We belong to Him, and He loves us.
Love is an Action
God did not communicate His love in flowery phrases or mushy poetry. In conjunction with the entire Bible, the book of Ephesians speaks of God’s love demonstrated through action. In Ephesians 1:3-8 alone, we learn that in His love, He blessed us with every spiritual blessing, He chose us before the creation of the world, He made us holy and blameless in His sight, He adopted into His family, He gave us redemption and forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice, and He lavished grace on us. God has loved us greatly!
Growing in Imitation
As God’s dearly loved children, we should desire to imitate no one more than Him. He is our glorious Heavenly Father who has shared His abundant love with us. Who else could ever be more worthy of our imitation? We cannot imitate God without imitating His love. As his beloved children, we have tasted and seen of His great love for us. We are to treasure and rejoice in this love, demonstrating our wonder over God’s love by then imitating the love of our Father. As he loves not merely in word but also in action, we are to imitate Him.
How can you praise God today for calling you as His beloved child? What are ways He has lavished love on you? What steps can you take in your family, with your friends or at your work to live imitating of our loving Father?