Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters. Ephesians 5:1 TPT
When I first became a parent I wondered how I would guide my newborn son. I soon became aware that he would readily copy what he saw me doing, scary! Children just imitate what they see, don’t they?
In today’s verse, the Greek word used for imitator is “mimos” and you can see it’s similar to our word for mimic! Paul’s reasoning up to this point has been about leaving “the old life” behind. Some of the the disorder in the old life is described with words such as stubbornness, being hot-tempered, factions, cursing, hating, unwholesome talk, sexual immorality, slander and spitefulness.
Instead of continuing in these life-destroying behaviours, the church is urged to copy God – to imitate the Father and be an authentic expression of His character. Sometimes, depending on how we’ve been taught, we can pick up that this is something we just have to try to do – as someone once put it, “Do we just have to try to be good-er?!”
It is very clear from Jesus’ teaching, and continued in the New Testament letters, that it is not about us having to try harder but about receiving a new nature. The Good News Translation gives a wonderful wording of Colossians 3:10 that talks about the old self and the new self (self as the essence of our being and identity).
“… for you have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.” Colossians 3:9-10 (GNT)
So, God is the Creator of this new self in us and He is ceaselessly at work in us to renew this new self in His own image. The sense of this renewal is not about improving an old thing to a more up to date version. Rather it’s about bringing change that’s of a different nature. This new self is one that God has made in His own image, one that reflects His very own nature and character. He creates this new self to be like Him. As Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “… put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24 (NIV). In other words, we become sons and daughters who look like their Father!
In contrast with what the church is urged to leave behind, the quality of this new life in the Holy Spirit is beautifully expressed in Galatians:
“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV)
Father God, thank You, You love and accept me as I am and I don’t have to just try harder. I realise I can still choose between my own way or Your way for my life. As I yield myself to You I trust in Your care for me as You lovingly shape my life to truly represent who You are. Thank You, Jesus, that Your Spirit who now lives within me helps to grow my new self. Thank You that You are changing me from the inside out.