Imitators of God, walking in love and light.
Ephesians 5 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Be Imitators of God
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 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.
3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness,
but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do
not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed
by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Overcoming evil with good is not condoning evil, it is not embracing evil; it is not even tolerating evil. In today’s text Paul says: But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Overcoming evil with good is also much more than just railing against what is evil. It is more than talking about and condemning what those who practice evil are doing. In today’s text Paul says: it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. The more we focus on evil, the more we talk about what is done in darkness, the more power we give it. It amazes me how often people will rant against something on social media, all the while continuing to share and repeat the very thing they say is offensive. Paul says: do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. We overcome evil by being good. We overcome darkness by shining light. We should not partake or participate with darkness either by action or by acceptance, but neither do we just condemn evil and darkness with our words, rather we expose darkness to the Light of the Lord, walking as children of Light.
The text begins saying: 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. We are to walk in love. It is not though the love the world seeks which we are to walk in. The world has interchanged the words acceptance, tolerance and inclusion for love. Tolerance is accepting what we don’t love. Inclusion is admitting by compulsion not by compassion. We are to be imitators of God and of Christ in love. God doesn’t tolerate us. He doesn’t accept us even though He despises us. God doesn’t include us because He has to. He made a way for us to be accepted and included because He wanted to, because of love. God doesn’t accept, tolerate or include us. He loves us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8) If God wanted to accept, include and tolerate sin, Jesus would not have had to suffer and die on the cross. The love of God was demonstrated in the sacrifice of Christ, not so that we could be accepted and included as we were, but so that we could be changed, redeemed from sin, forgiven, loved not tolerated. If we are to be imitators of God, then the love we walk in must also point to the cross of Christ. Like God and Jesus we should offer compassion, not condemnation. John 12:32-33says: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. We should lift up Jesus in the presence of the world. Our love should point to the cross, the way He died for sin, so that they too may be changed, redeemed, loved; not tolerated by God.
In truth we can be more than imitators of God. In Genesis 1:26-28 it says: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them. The love of God, His blessing, demonstrated and given to us in the cross of Christ was not only to redeem us from sin so that we would be acceptable in His sight and His presence. It was also to restore us to what God intended for us from the beginning, not that we would imitate Him, but rather that we would be His very image and likeness. If we are restored, recreated in God’s image and likeness through Christ and the cross, then our love should accept nothing less than God’s love. We should not tolerate darkness, because: in Him there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5) We should accept nothing less than the will of God for the world; that they would believe in Christ and have eternal life, redeemed from sin, loved not tolerated.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that through the cross I am more than just one who should imitate You, as if it were in my own strength or ability. But rather I am restored, I am recreated into Your image and likeness, that through the cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit I can love as You love, walking in light. Amen.