Therefore, Be Followers or Imitators of God
Ephesians 5:1-2, May 2, 2021
How many of you think you can imitate God? How many of you have ever worn a wrist band with the letters WWJD on it?
v1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children – and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. NIV v1-2 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. NASB
Whether your Bible reads Follow God’s example, or be imitators of God or be followers of God it is the same Greek word mimetes (mim-ay-tace) and it where we get the English word mimic. You will find it eight times in the KJV of the Bible
Therefore is a transition conjunction connecting something earlier with something now. So back to chapter four and we find Therefore occurs again in verse 25 which takes us back to verse 17 which leads us to verse 20-24 before we can get to verse 25 and then verse 1 in chapter 5.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Verses 25-32 which begin with Therefore and they tell us of specific changes resulting from what has been taught, what the new self will do. Paul gives five exhortations, each with three parts, a negative command, a positive command, and a reason for the positive command.
Number 1) 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Stop lying, tell the truth, we are all brothers and sisters. And if we lie, we become like Satan, the father of lies.
Number 2) 26 “In your anger do not sin” [from Psalm 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Paul does not say do not get angry, but do not let your anger lead you into sin via action or deed. In fact put the anger away before you go to bed. To hold onto your anger is to give the devil an opportunity to come in and foster even more destructive thoughts. How? Your anger not dealt with grows into irritation until you just cannot be civil without reason.
Number 3) 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Right out of the 8th commandment in Exodus 20:15, You shall not steal. Instead of stealing, work, do something useful. If you do this, instead of stealing you will end up sharing. What a change.
Number 4) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Let us take a look at Matthew 12:34b, The mouth speaks what the heart is full of and Luke 6:45b says the same, The mouth speaks what -the heart is full of. Then Ephesians 3:17, Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
What is coming out of your mouth – Jesus? Or the world? That anger, now irritation, you did not deal with?
Number 5) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
If we do not wish to grieve the Holy Spirit Paul tells us what to get rid of and what to replace it with. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Then replace it with kindness and compassion for one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Literally, we are to keep on being kind and considerate. AND further, we are to keep on forgiving and forgiving and forgiving. Forgiving for real, not like “I forgive you, but I am going to remember and hold this over your head.” That is not how God forgives.
Before I provide an example of how we are to forgive let us re read chapter 5 verses 1 and 2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children – and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
And let us talk about that love, it is not the gooey heartfelt love of when we can’t wait to do something for someone we love. No, it is love in action. Jesus gave us the example of how we are to love in Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In other words, imitate God in doing this. For God did not wait until we turned to Him to forgive us. No, instead as Romans 5:8 tells us God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
With this in mind, now I want to give you an example of how to forgive via a Corrie Ten Boom story.
If we want to imitate God, Jesus, it will begin with forgiveness. And Jesus told us how that is to work in Mark 11:25