Last week, I left you with a question: How do we live a life that imitates God?
Let’s just jump right into the Word of God and find out.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Be imitators of God. We are to imitate God. What does that mean? The Oxford American Dictionary says imitate means “to copy the behavior of, to take as an example that should be followed.” Isn’t that beautiful? We are to copy the behavior of God. We are to observe and study His behavior and then follow it.
Which leads me to ask: How does God behave?
In the verses I just quoted is one example. “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” He loved us and gave himself up for us. Love and sacrifice. That’s who God is. It’s who He wants us to be. He wants us to love Him and everyone around us. He also wants us to live sacrificially, thinking of others before ourselves. Giving up things we want in order to serve other people.
How may we shift our thinking to be more loving and sacrificial? I think it all begins with learning more about God through His Son Jesus. Why do I think this? Jesus said, in John 8:28-29 (NIV), “… I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me [God the Father] is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
Since Jesus spoke “just what the Father has taught me,” then we can assume that the characteristics he lived out while walking on the earth came straight from God. Therefore, they are the same ones we should strive to learn ourselves. And why would we want to do that? Look what Jesus said at the end of that verse: “for I always do what pleases [the Father].” If His characteristics pleased God, then if we imitate Him, our characteristics and actions may please God also.
Very quickly, let’s look at a few ways Jesus behaved while He lived on earth, so that we know what behaviors we should be imitating. All these verses are from the NIV and all emphases in italics are mine.
Matthew 9:36 “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them …”
John 10:28 “I [Jesus] give them eternal life …”
Matthew 9:2 “… When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
So far, we see that Jesus is compassionate, giving, forgiving, gentle, and humble. Another neat thing in Matthew 11:29 is that Jesus instructs us to learn from Him. Basically, He’s asking us right there to learn how He behaves and then imitate that behavior. Become like Him in those characteristics. We will never be Jesus, but we can be like Him—we can share in His characteristics—if we learn how to behave like Him.
We’re not becoming Christ in His perfection. No one could do that, nor should we strive to. Instead, we’re striving to become like Christ in His behaviors. There’s a difference, and it’s important that we understand that.
That’s my daily goal from here on out. Each day, I want to imitate Him. I want to learn from Jesus’s example and practice using His characteristics until the day I meet Him in person. I want to live a life of compassion, grace, forgiveness, humility, and giving, among many, many others. If I do that, if we all do that, can you imagine God’s huge smile when we finally meet Him face to face? That will be beautiful indeed.
If you’d like to learn more about what Jesus’s behaviors looked like, read one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They are chock-full of His behaviors and characteristics while He walked the earth. So many great examples of the behaviors we are supposed to imitate, and they’re just sitting there waiting on you to read them. Waiting on you to study them and learn how to practice them yourself.
What are you waiting for? Go on and dig in!
Readers, how are you imitating God today? Which characteristics of Jesus do you need to work harder on? If your friends, family, neighbors, and strangers on the street could see Jesus in you, which characteristics do you think they’d point to and say, “That’s it. That’s what Jesus must look like”?
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