One year for Halloween I was a detective. I wanted to be a detective for no other reason than because my dad was a detective. It’s very common to see young children want to be like their parents. My mom became a teacher, and wouldn’t you know, her dad and stepmom were teachers too. Granted, while she had a very special teacher in the third grade who truly inspired her to teach, it’s hard to deny her parents had an impact as well. Children often pick up the habits of their parents. We often walk and talk just like our parents. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1 that Christians need to imitate God, as beloved children. This is another example of God’s desire to have a relationship with us where He is the father and we are His children. Just like we seek to be like our parents, we need to also seek to be like God.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)
Imitating God is not an easy thing for us to do. However, Paul gives us some helpful insights to guide our ability to imitate God. Paul tells us to walk in love as Christ loved us. Christ’s love for us was sacrificial, so our love needs to be sacrificial as well. We don’t need to just tell people we love them; we need to show people we love them. Even when this means making a sacrifice. Not only does our love need to be sacrificial, but our love needs to be a lifestyle. When Paul says to “walk in love,” he is telling us to live a life of love. We need to be recognized as a loving people– love needs to be an identifying characteristic. God is love, and if we are going to imitate Him, we must be love.
Stop and Think:
- Do you think imitating God is hard? Why?
- What can you do to be more like God?
- Why is love so important for imitating God?
- Will people notice if we love like God?
If you are doing this devotional with small children, you may want to read ahead to make sure you want to continue.
In Ephesians 5:3-4, Paul gives us some examples of how not to imitate God. Because God is holy and perfect, sin cannot be part of our life if we are going to be like God. The interesting part about the sin Paul mentions here is it is in deep contrast with the love we are supposed to add to our life, as God’s imitators. The love we are to walk in is supposed to have the interest of others at heart. The sins listed here often hurt not just us but also others that we care for deeply.
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:3-4 ESV)
Sexual sin is not only hurtful for those who commit the act, but it so often hurts those close to the sinner. This sin does not show an unconditional and sacrificial love for others. Rather, it shows a love and desire for self. Often these sins are committed when a person puts their fleshly desire before the spiritual needs of themselves and others. This is not an act of love. Even covetousness, a jealous longing for another’s possessions, is not showing love. Love is being thankful for the blessings of others, not jealous. While covetousness is not very loving, it is likely, based on the context, that Paul is still addressing sexual immorality, more specifically a lust for another person. This is objectifying (or treating people like objects) and a dangerous mindset to have. Love says, I want what’s best for you; lust says I want you. Love helps people grow closer to God; lust attempts to tear people away from God.
Verse four addresses talking about inappropriate things. This is the opposite of love because this attempts to lead people away from God as well. It is difficult to be engaged in a conversation and resist participating when another person begins talking about something inappropriate. Love brings people in closer to God; sin pushes people away. If we are going to imitate God, we cannot push people away from Him.
Stop and think:
- Why does sin prevent us from imitating God?
- Can you see how these sins are the opposite of God’s love?
- How do sexual sins hurt others?
Paul moves on to warn about the wrath of God coming on those who are disobedient in verses six and seven. He actually calls them “sons of disobedience.” Here we are presented with two options: to live like a son of God or to live like a son of disobedience. If we are going to be a son of God, we must be like God and not partake in the acts of the disobedient (Ephesians 5:7). The children of disobedience walk in darkness, but the children of God walk in the light (Ephesians 5:8). We must remember to walk in the light, because obedience is the only way we can be an imitator of God.
Pray as a family or by yourself that God will help you imitate Him!