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Devotional - week of March 9, 2003


IMITATORS OF GOD

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us … Ephesians 5:1-2

If our only resource for knowing the meaning of this verse is the verse itself, we would believe Paul has changed his theology.

A God-loving person not familiar with Paul’s approach to the Christian life would conclude that he should increase his determination and do his very best to love like God does.

One of the rules for understanding a statement of Scripture is to interpret it in light of its context. Following that rule, we understand that Paul is not speaking of creating our own love.

In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul explains that when his readers learned about Jesus, they learned to put off the old man and put on the new man. Following that explanation, Paul lists a number of particular settings in which we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. As a part of this series, Paul writes:

… be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love, as Christ loved us ...

When we put off our old man and put on our new man by experiencing our crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and He loves through us.

Paul exhorted us to imitate God and walk in love as dear children—or as God’s “loved” children.

The tense of the verb “walk” calls for continual action. The exhortation then is that we continually live out the five commands of Romans 6:11-13, putting off the old man and putting on the new man.

“Therefore” ties the statement to the previous verse which speaks of loving as God loves.

… be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

By putting off the old man and putting on the new man, we will be “imitators” of God—even in forgiving one another.