Sunday, 2 October 2016
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. Ephesians 5:1
“Therefore” is given for us to consider what has been said and then to apply it to what will be said. Paul spoke about learning of Christ in verse 4:20. That led into the appropriate walk for believers. A description of how to conduct that walk was then broken down for us in verses 25-32. In those verses, we are instructed in how to walk properly and thus to be sound in our learning of Christ. The verses ended with, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
With that final thought, we are then told, “Therefore be imitators of God.” In doing the things which were described, we are imitating God. Those final words of “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” were explained in detail. It was noted that our forgiveness is to be universally available, but not necessarily universally applied. We are not required to forgive those who do not repent of their conduct toward us, just as God does not forgive those who do not come to Him through Christ. The forgiveness is potentially unconditional, but it is not actual until it is requested.
To prove this, we can go just a couple verses down in Chapter 5 where Paul will say –
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
A person who has no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God,” and upon whom “the wrath of God comes,” is obviously not forgiven. And so, in order to be imitators of God, we are to hold to that which is good, refrain from that which is evil, and to forgive openly and freely, but not unwisely. In so doing, we will be “as dear children.
A child who is dear is a child who emulates his parents in the ways they instruct. He further emulates his parents after seeing the way they behave. If we openly “forgive” someone who is violently opposed to the Christian message, who is a fornicator, an unclean person, a covetous man, or an idolater, without them first being willing to come to Christ and turn from those things, then we are not emulating our Father in heaven. We are, instead, condoning their lifestyle, and thus actually working against His intent and purpose for these people.
However, this is what modern churchianity has come to. Doors are swung wide open to those who practice such things, and there is no hint of condemning the conduct in which they are engaged. Supposed blanket forgiveness of sin is handed out, and the example of God, which is given to us in Christ, is ignored.
Life application: When we are asked to be imitators of God, it does not mean that we are to only assume what others might consider the “positive” aspects He possesses, but all of His attributes. We are to have a moral sense of righteousness, justice, intolerance towards sin, and the like. If we fail in this regard, we are not upholding the words of Scripture, and we are not glorifying our Father who is in heaven.
Lord God, Your word asks us to be imitators of You. This means that we are to be loving, forgiving, and kind to others, but it also means that we are to be morally grounded. We are to emulate Your righteousness, Your justice, and to be intolerant towards sin and moral perversion. When we fail to uphold Your moral purity, we are not honoring You at all. Rather, we are bringing shame upon Your great name. Help us to never waffle in our moral convictions, but to stand against everything aberrant and perverse. In this, we are as dear children, emulating our perfectly moral heavenly Father. Yes, help us in this. Amen.