Imitating the Father: Why Bother?

Daily Devotion | Day 308

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1, NKJV).

Imitation of the Father is the essence of a Christian’s calling. Imitating God is intrinsic to worship. Therefore, without the imitation of the Father, Christian worship is vain. Part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to reveal to us the Father’s nature and to show us how to be like our Father in heaven. In view of this, His ministry included a strong emphasis on the Father and the call to imitate Him. To be a Christian means to be about the Father’s business – as Jesus was: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). To imitate God means to make the Father’s business your business. And that’s the point of being a Christian.

In a single sentence, Paul sums up the calling of a Christian. Writing to the Ephesians, he says, “be imitators of God as dear children.” Paul doesn’t want Christians to be children of God in name only. Being a child of God comes with a mission. And it is the mission which lends credibility to the name. Paul’s point is this: To be a child of God means to be an imitator of God. The two things are inseparable. “Child of God” describes what you are and “imitator of God” describes what you do. To be authentic, what you are and what you do must agree. This was the case with Jesus. He was (and is) the Son of God and an imitator of the Father. As He plainly testified, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19; see also 12:49-50).

Imitating the Father involves three things: knowledge, motivation and transformation.

First, you cannot imitate what you don’t know.

You can only imitate what you know. Therefore, when Paul talks about imitating God, he is assuming that you know God. Without knowledge there can be no imitation. This means you need to study your Father. A lot is revealed about Him in the Bible. When the Bible talks about God, you need to pay attention because the message is about your Father. The better you know your Father, the better you can imitate Him. To imitate the Father, you must first know His nature and understand His ways.

Second, to imitate someone, you must be interested and motivated.

Love is the most powerful and the most authentic motivation there is. Love is what drives you to want to be like someone. It’s the same with the Father. You won’t waste time imitating what you don’t love. Whom you love, you imitate. Therefore, to imitate the Father, you must first love Him. Imitating the Father is evidence that you love Him. One proof that God is your Father is that you’re passionate about imitating Him. And, love is what sustains your interest in imitating God.

Third, imitation leads to transformation.

What you imitate, you become. You can’t imitate someone without that person’s character or worldview becoming a part of you. The more you imitate the Father, the more you will look like Him in your speech, in your thinking and in your deeds. In Christian spirituality, imitation of God is empowering. When you imitate God, you draw power and inspiration from Him. Recall that we’re the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This should tell us something. We exist to imitate the Person whose likeness we are. It is in doing this that we are transformed, elevated and empowered.

Don’t be a child of God in name only. Know your Father. Be an imitator of God. Amen.

For further studyJohn 8:13-59

Love the Person, Not the Gifts

Daily Devotion: Day 230

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17, NKJV).

 The above Scripture contains two important elements. These are, gift and GiverThe emphasis of the statement is on the Giver, not the gift. The of all good things is the Father of lights. The Bible further states that there is no variation or shadow of turning in the Father. This means He is ever dependable. Indeed, He is the Rock of our salvation. He delights in bestowing good gifts upon us. John tells us, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

That said, God does not want us to focus on His gifts to us. He wants us to focus on Him, the Giver. What do you want more, the source of the gifts or the gifts themselves? This sounds like a simple question, but many people tend to focus on what they can get from people. They seek you for your gifts, for what you can provide. Your value, to them, is based on what you bring to the table. If you are not ‘useful,’ you are not worth their time. They don’t seek you for your own sake, for who you are per se.

Such a relationship is mainly utilitarian in character. It is the relationship one has, for example, with Santa Claus. If Santa Claus didn’t dish out gifts, who would want him? People bring this utilitarian, consumerist mindset – consciously or unconsciously – into nearly all relationships. They bring it into marriages, into the workplace, into friendships, and even into churches and their relationship with God. So long as you have something which interests them, they’ll stay close to you. Lose what you have, and they lose interest in you. Christians need to change this climate.

And it starts with rethinking our relationship with the Father in heaven.

Yes, our Father is happy to bless us and provide for us. He created us without our asking. He sent His Son to die for our sins without our asking. And Paul says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The Father gave us Jesus freely. There is nothing we can ask of Him which will be surpass the giving of His Son. Yet, what God wants above all things is a Father-child fellowship. He does not want us to seek gifts and in the process neglect the priority of eternal life.

It is possible to receive a lot of good gifts from the Father and still not make it to heaven. Why is that, you may say? Well, remember, God is so good that “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He provides for all creation and all people, regardless of their belief (or lack therefore) in Him. This is proof that you can receive ‘good things’ from God without necessarily being a friend of God or being saved.

That is why it’s important to focus first on your relationship with the Father. You can receive gifts without receiving the Giver. But, if you receive the Giver, you have – in essence – received the gifts, because every good and perfect gift is in the Giver.

Seek the Father today. Get to know Him. Love Him with all your heart. He will give you perfect gifts beyond what you could ever ask or imagine.

Be blessed, you and your household! Amen.

For further study: Luke 12:22-34