"Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
~Ephesians 5: 1-2 (NASB)
I have read these verses many times before, yet have never really taken them literally. When I read them yesterday morning, I caught a glimpse of the weight of Paul's words.
"Be imitators of God," Paul commands the Ephesians. This is no light order. Instead, this is a Christian's highest calling!
Imitate: to follow as a pattern, model, or example; to be or appear like; resemble
This is the process of sanctification; the process that will never fully be completed until the redemption of our bodies.
Yet, while on the earth, we as believers, are called to serve Christ, to imitate Him with our lives! This is a daunting task, but for believers we can hold onto the promise that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
As I was reading Ephesians 5:1, I was thinking to myself, "How can I relate this verse to my own life? What are some practical ways of imitating Christ in my everyday life?" The rest of this blogpost will be dedicated to answering those questions.
In one sense, there are many ways to relate the verse to your own life. Yet, in the other sense, imitating Christ and giving your all to Him is not something that you can just fit into your everyday life. It requires a heart change.
Paul is an excellent example of this devotion, this love for God, this incredible mindset. It is seen clearly in his epistles. Here are some of the verses that are perfect examples of this.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
This is an amazing declaration. For Paul, Christ is not a part of his life, Christ is Paul's life. In other words, Paul was completely and totally surrendered to Christ. Everything he did, everything he said, everything he thought, every breath he breathed was for the glory of God and the furtherance of his kingdom. I'm not saying that Paul never sinned, but I am saying that Paul realized that Christ is the sole reason why we are alive and lived his life for his Savior!
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20)
Jesus Christ purchased His sheep, His children on the cross. As Romans 6: 18 says, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." Even though we have been adopted into the family of God, we as Christians are still slaves of Christ. As such, we need to surrender our all to our Savior and King!
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:7-8)
These verses sum up the point from Philippians 1:21: to live is Christ.
This is no simple thing to do though. Applying this principle to your life is one of the hardest things to do. Like I said earlier, it requires a changed mindset, a changed heart.
Do you count everything as loss compared to Christ? Is Christ your everything, your All in All or do other things take first place in your life?
This blogpost was written in hopes that it would challenge your way of thinking, the way you live, as it has challenged mine.
Becoming an Imitator of God Application (Here are some ideas to apply to your life):
- Give God everything. In order for Him to be your First Love, you must remove the idols and other things that have taken Christ's place in the past. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of previous or existing idols and sins you need to deal with in your life. Ask forgiveness for these things and make restitution, if needed. Commit your previous idols to the Lord and ask Him to give you the strength needed in order for them not to become your First Love again.
- Examine your schedule. Are you too busy for the Lord? Have you been spending time with Him everyday or have you been allowing other things to get in the way of spending time with the King of Kings? During our move, that was one of the hardest things for me. It was so easy to allow other things (ie: painting, unpacking, etc.) to get in the way of my time with the Lord. That is the most important and special thing I get to do in my day. I, an unworthy and utterly wretched sinner, get the privilege to proceed into the throne room of Almighty God, the Creator, Savior, and Lover of my soul! Yet, how many times have I made the excuse that I was too busy to pray, too busy to speak with the Lord and receive the blessings of spending time with Him? I have so little to give to Him, when He has given everything for me? How wrong, how terribly wrong!
- Memorize Scripture. The Bible is as sharp as a double-edged sword, and "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16) When battling with temptation, Scripture is the best weapon to equip ourselves with.
- Look at the Fruit of the Spirit and discover what qualities you fall short in. I did this a couple months ago and it was so helpful for me. After I wrote down a list (yes, a list) of character qualities I need work in, I did my own study for each one, looking at what God says about each character trait along with its opposite.Pray that the Lord would help you to conquer your weaknesses and make them your strengths.
Character quality that needs work: joyful heart in all circumstances
What does the Lord say about joy? Philippians 4:4, Proverbs 17:22, Galatians 5:22
What does the Lord say about a complaining and grumbling spirit? Philippians 2:14-16
What verses should I memorize to battle a complaining spirit? Philippians 2:14-16, Colossians 3:17
In conclusion, I wanted to post a song that has been very powerful in my own life. I wasn't able to figure out how to upload the song on this post, but I do have the song in my playlist. To listen to the song, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the song "My Passion" by Travis Cottrell. I believe that this song ties up everything perfectly. May Christ be the passion of your life!