As Christians, we are called to be imitators of God in all that we do. This is a powerful concept that should not be taken lightly. As the Bible says in Ephesians 5:1 ESV, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Simply put, we are to copy God’s character and actions in our lives. But what does this really mean, and how do we become imitators of God?
The Bible gives us significant clues on how to live out this commandment. First, the Bible encourages believers to imitate God by loving others deeply. 1 John 4:7–8 ESV states, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” When we show love to others in the same way that Jesus Christ did, we imitate God.
What Does It Mean To Be Imitators Of God?
When we imitate God, it means living a life that reflects the character of God and the Holy Spirit. It means striving to be more like Him in our thoughts, words, and actions. This involves consciously loving our neighbors, forgiving those who have wronged us, showing kindness to others, and living a life of compassion and empathy.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul encourages believers—children beloved by Him—to be imitators of God in Ephesians 5:1–2. He writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ, God’s dear son, is the ultimate example of what it means to be an imitator of God through Jesus’ divine nature. He lived a life of selflessness, humility, and love, and ultimately sacrificed Himself for the sake of humanity. By following His example, we can learn how to live a life that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
Being an imitator of God also means rejecting behaviors and attitudes that are contrary to His character. This includes things like hatred, bitterness, selfishness, and pride. Instead, we are called to pursue righteousness and holiness and to put on the character of Christ.
In Colossians 3:12–14, Paul encourages believers to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Being an imitator of God is not just about our outward actions but also about the condition of our hearts. We must strive to cultivate a heart that is pure, humble, and filled with love. This involves spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and seeking to know God more intimately.
Is It Possible For Us Sinners To Imitate God?
In Ephesians 5:1–2, the Apostle Paul writes, “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.” This passage highlights the importance of imitating God, particularly in terms of showing love and sacrifice for others. The idea is that Christians should strive to emulate the qualities of God, even if they cannot achieve perfection.
However, the idea of imitating God can be challenging for sinners, who may struggle to live up to God’s standards. Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This passage suggests that even the most righteous humans are still sinners and cannot fully imitate God’s perfect nature.
Despite this, Christians are still called to strive for righteousness and to imitate God as much as possible. This involves living a life of humility, love, and service to others and avoiding sin and temptation. Philippians 2:3–4 states, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others.”
Furthermore, Christians are encouraged to rely on God’s strength to resist and overcome temptation and sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Ephesians 4:32 also says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” This means that we should show the same kind of mercy and grace towards others as God has extended to us in Christ.
What Behavior Is And Is Not A Worthy Imitation Of God?
The Bible is full of instructions on what behavior is and is not a worthy imitation of God. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” This verse serves as a reminder that believers should strive to imitate the example set by Jesus Christ, just as Paul did.
The Bible also teaches believers to imitate God’s holiness, love, mercy, and justice. Ephesians 5:1–2 instructs, “Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” This passage reminds believers to follow God’s example of love and mercy, just as Christ did.
Similarly, Psalm 33:5 says, “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” This reminds us that God is a righteous judge who loves justice, and we should strive to imitate this behavior in our own lives.
The Bible also clearly states that certain behaviors, such as sin and disobedience, should not be imitated. Deuteronomy 6:16 warns, “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” This verse reminds us to avoid tempting God by disobeying Him.
In a similar context, 1 Corinthians 10:9 reminds us not to be led astray by idolatry or sexual immorality: “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed by serpents.” These passages remind believers that we should avoid imitating sinful behavior and instead strive to imitate God’s righteous example.
How To Properly Imitate God?
Imitating God is an important part of living a Christian and eternal life. It teaches us to live in a way that honors and reflects our Creator. The Scriptures are filled with examples of what it means to imitate God, starting with Jesus Christ and his life and teachings on earth. His example shows us how Christians should strive for humble service, sacrificial love, and selfless obedience.
The Apostle Paul gives us further instructions on how to imitate God in his letters to the church. In Romans 12:2, he writes, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The verse tells us that by renewing how we think, we can discern God’s will, which should lead us to imitate Him in our words, thoughts, and actions.
We can also look to examples from the Old Testament for further instruction on how to imitate God. In Genesis 1:26, it says that “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” This verse shows us that we were created to be like God, so following His example is essential if we are to live a life like His. In addition to looking to the Scripture for guidance, we can seek out Christian mentors who can show us how to imitate God properly.
Romans 15:7 says, “So then, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” We should find someone in our life who glorifies this kind of humble service, and love and use them as a model for how we should imitate God in our daily lives.
Imitating God is a lifelong journey. We are not expected to become perfect overnight, but by studying the Scripture, seeking guidance from Christian mentors, and continuously renewing our minds, we can take steps each day toward becoming more like our Creator. As we strive to imitate Him, may we glorify his name and bring honor to Him in all that we do.
As believers and God’s children, we are called to imitate God and follow His example. We are to love each other as He loves us, be kind and compassionate to our neighbor, forgive those who hurt us, and walk in the ways that He commands us. By doing this, we can live a life of peace and joy with Him.
The Bible provides us with countless examples of how to imitate God, and the fruits of our obedience will always be blessings from Him. We must remember to continually strive for holiness, walking in God’s ways and imitating His character so that we may become more like Him.