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. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
These particular verses were not part of the Lectionary texts but they were part of my reading this week. More often than not I read more than the verses noted in the lectionary. Too often by reading only bits and pieces I see or hear only part of what God wants to say to me. Context. Read Scripture in context.
It seems like a pretty big task to imitate God. Fortunately, God didn’t just say that and leave it. He gave me a list of what looks like Him.
Speak the truth in the Body of Believers. This is an area that I struggle with. There are times when I see things that are happening in the fellowship to which I belong. I pray about it. Is it my flesh or God telling me to speak out or telling me to keep praying? I am known by even my friends as a â€œplain speakerâ€. It might surprise people that I hold back on speaking what is on my mind. I pray God puts messages that â€œburnâ€ inside of me and that they are the truths that I speak.
Do not stay angry. God warns me that holding on to anger will lead to bitterness. A bitter heart is a dying heart. I used to have a spectacular temper. My father and grandfather also had such tempers. It was like a fire’s flashpoint. When I gave my life to Jesus, He did a cleaning in my heart. I released a lot of bitterness. I found I didn’t want to lash out at people. But old habits? They require re-training. I have had to learn a new way of thinking. I am allowing God to re-program me. He isn’t done with me yet. I have learned a lot through my husband. We’ve learned together how to communicate and â€œappreciateâ€ our differences. Not holding anger overnight is an important â€œMarriage Ruleâ€.
Do not steal. This says to not to steal but it also says to work for my living so that I may provide not only for myself but for those who are in need. Is there a rebuke there for those who may â€œsponge offâ€ others? And a Word that reminds me that what God provides to me, opportunities for work and favor with those in authority that gives me raises and bonuses, is not just for me but another opportunity from God to minister to others.
Do not speak destructively. Be an encourager. Lift others up. And going back to â€œspeak the truthâ€, do it under the power of the Spirit that also builds a person when they know I care enough to be truthful and yet still loving, just as Jesus does.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? Entire theological books have been written on this verse in the Bible. To â€œgrieveâ€ someone means to sadden them with my actions. I have met people who were very afraid that they had done something to sadden or offend the Holy Spirit so that they would be forever separated from God. I’ve heard my husband explain to these panicked people that if they are â€œconcernedâ€ about this â€“ then the Holy Spirit is still speaking and convicting them and has a relationship with them that desires that they come closer to God.
Get rid of the bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, and malicious words and behavior. Just do it. Ask the Holy Spirit to re-program me. Clean me from this â€œstuffâ€ that is destructive and fill me with â€“
Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving just like Jesus has forgiven you. Every day I ask the Holy Spirit to shines His light into every corner of my life. I ask Him to show me where I need to make a change and repent so that I can also ask the Spirit to fill me up with all this that is from Him. It is a conscience choice. I choose to imitate Jesus. My life becomes an offering; an act of worship to my LORD (Romans 12:1-2).
Make a choice. Choose to imitate Jesus? â€“ Or not.
I Want to be Just Like You by Phillips, Craig and Dean (1995)