You’ve probably heard it said before that, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” Yet, I’m guessing many of us would cringe to think of ourselves as less than original, or to classify ourselves as imitators. Realistically speaking, though, we inevitably mimic those people or things under whose influence we live. In a similar vein, I’m also guessing many of us would be reticent to call ourselves idolaters. But, truth be told, we all give an undue amount of time, thought, feeling, and worship to things and people (ourselves included), rather than to God. On any given day, it’s safe to assume that we are, at once, both imitators and idolaters.
- What things or people influence you or receive your deepest devotion?
READ THE WORD: EPHESIANS 5:1-5 (ESV)
5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Whom should believers in Christ imitate, and with what key understanding as our motivation (vs. 1)?
- What should our imitation look like (vs. 2)? How did Paul describe Jesus’ example of love? Would those who know you best describe your life as an offering and sacrifice to God?
- Among Christ followers, what should be altogether absent (vss. 3-4)? What should reside among believers in Christ in the place of these things (vs. 4)?
- Consider the ways in which you are an imitator. Whose influence do you live under, and whom do you choose to mimic?
- Think about how you value things or people over God. In what ways do you gratify yourself at the expense of others and your own purity? How do you undermine your God-given self-worth as a beloved child by embracing certain sins?
RESPOND TO GOD
Imitating God instead of idolizing and indulging ourselves requires obedience and sacrifice, as evidenced by Jesus’ example. Those who choose to walk in love live in gratitude and with purposeful speech—not caught up in a sideshow of sexual innuendo and less-than honorable language. Children of God understand their self-worth and the value of those around them, and they live accordingly: valuing their bodies and speech, and choosing to bless others instead of using them for gain. They worship God by using their lives as evidence-giving tools of his love—not behaving like unbelievers, debasing themselves as though they’d never understood the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the call to live redeemed and walk in love.
- Confess the areas where you are choosing sin and self-indulgence over worshiping God and following Jesus. Ask for his help as you choose to walk in love and gratitude instead.
- Pray that you would understand your worth as God’s beloved child. Praise him for his great love for you!