“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1
When we imitate God, we love those even when they hate us. We love them regardless of their actions, emotions or words. We love them in spite of how they treat us or how they reciprocate. It is a self-sacrificial love that we are called to give because He loved us when we despised Him, we turned our backs on Him and we ran to other things to satisfy us.
(Note: If you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, including co-dependency, please seek help. This isn’t a post on justification of staying in those relationships)
I think about my childhood alot when I think on imitating others. I grew up with the baby, and regardless of my bratty ways, I wanted to be my sister. I looked up to her in so many ways, and tried diligently to imitate her, eventhough she had seven years seniority on me. I wanted to be right by her, follow her around and do what she did for several years. I was annoying about it, and very “kid-sister”ish. I bugged her and her friends. There were times she simply did not want me around because she was figuring out who she is, and who her friends were at that stage.
In looking at it through the lens of imitating God, He wants us around Him. He desires for us to take on His attributes and likeness. It’s not creepy or annoying to Him, it’s His purpose for our lives. Now, as a follower of Him, the pattern of my life should resemble that of His, not what it once was in my former self. I don’t conform to what I once was, this mold of what the world says I should be, but rather a freeing replica of Him-full of love, compassion and gentleness. Wisdom and understanding growing in me as I grow in His likeness.
People have remarked when they meet my sister and me how much we resemble one another. Shouldn’t there be a family resemblance if we are imitating God? It stands to reason that if I am in God’s Word, in relationship with Him daily, and seeking Him in all things that I should have some of the traits of my Father right?
Matthew Henry shares in his commentary that of all the things we should resemble of God, and the one we are able to pursue with fervor and full strength is that of “His love and pardoning goodness.” Our understanding and wisdom cannot fully be imitated of God’s this side of heaven as we cannot obtain perfection in those. But love? Oh love is what He has given us, He has poured out on us, and filled us with. I can be fully like God in one way, and that is by His love.
It is not withheld from me, so why should I withhold that from another who seeks it, who needs it? Go beyond loving those who love you. That’s the easy part. God showed us the difficult in loving others when they are your enemy, when they despise you or hate you. Let’s imitate who He is instead of who we want to be. We give Him the greatest glory in how we love by Him, through Him and with Him.