Imitators of God

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Ephesians 5:1-14

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (v. 1)

When my three daughters were very young they would often imitate what they saw. They watched what others did and would do the same: smile, clap their hands, pet the cat. Children are born imitators. Such an impulse to imitate does not go away. In adolescence teenagers imitate each other in dress, speech, and habits—just go to the mall and look around. And while we adults may think we have outgrown it, we must admit that we continue to imitate: the values of peers at work, the fashions of our culture, and the tastes of those we admire. Imitation is inescapable.

This is the only passage in the entire New Testament in which we are called to imitate God. While something like this is implied in the teachings of Jesus, it is nowhere explicitly stated, except here. “Be imitators of God,” says Paul. The Greek verb is a present plural imperative meaning, “Continually be, all of you, imitators of God.” And notice who we are: beloved children of the loving God.

This means that we are to walk in love, just as Christ has loved us. Proof of Christ’s love is found in the fact that on the cross he gave himself up for us, just like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God in the Jewish temple. May we, in this self-sacrificial way, be imitators of God.


O Lord, help us walk in your path of sacrificial love.