Saturday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Ephesians 5:1-2

Be Imitators of God?

Having discussed the need (command rather) to be who we are, or behave who we are, Paul shows us the ultimate example of such behavior, saying, “Be Imitators of God, as beloved children.”  This injunction strikes us as both shocking and impossible: “Be imitators of God?” we say, “the Perfect One?”  Yes, just as our Lord said, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 

Perhaps to help ourselves, we should note the context in which Paul makes this statement.  Paul says, “Be imitators of God,” just after saying, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Here is a place where a break in the chapter gets in the way of understanding.  (The division of the books of the Bible into chapters and verses came into being much later with thirteenth-century, Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.  Most consider this a beneficial and even necessary innovation, but one mustn’t allow it to interfere with understanding, a matter with which I’m sure the Archbishop would have agreed.)  At any rate, the import is that we are to be as kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving towards others as our God is to us.  It is a wonderful thing that our Father is this way with us—God, the very Maker and Ruler of the universe is tenderhearted towards us.  And He rightly expects the same of us in our relations with others (Matthew 5:14-15; 18:23-35).

And the proof of this is that He sent His Son who further sets the example for us: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  So herein is love defined for us: giving ourselves up sacrificially unto God.  And how will this look?  I suppose the immediate answer people would give is by serving others.  This certainly is included.  But I first turn to prayer and praise, worship and adoration, growing in grace and godliness, sloughing off sin and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.  From these we may serve others in a way that is God-ward and grounded in Him.  Yes, love is an action (John 14:15), and so service is love, but so is being righteous and blameless before our God (Luke 1:6).

As long as God is God, perfection will be the standard; that will never change.  And the fact that we cannot reach that standard will not change that standard, nor will our inability deny God’s right to judge.  Praise Him that he is so kind as to send a Savior, not just to show us how to live, but to give himself up for us, “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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