Loving Like Jesus
Bible Reading: Ephesians 5
Ephesians 5:1-2, “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.”
For better or for worse, children imitate adults. We know this. From their youngest years, their small eyes and ears see and hear what we say and do. They readily soak it all in, and it doesn’t take long until they replicate what they’ve witnessed. In today’s world, children grow up exposed to countless other examples, be they good or bad, through the media and social media. There are even influencers who work to inspire or guide the action and behavior of others. Unfortunately, our society is guilty of oftentimes putting forth the worst kind of heroes before our young people. People lacking morality or values worth emulating. We have need of a legitimate hero!
When it comes to imitating others, there is but One perfect example that will never fail us, and that is God Himself. Be shocked by the exhortation in Ephesians 5:1—“Therefore be imitators of God!” Imitators of God! How is such a thing possible? Such a virtuous path is availed only to those who have been born again, having thus experienced a change in their spiritual genetics. Having previously been “sons of disobedience,” led by the devil himself to carry out the desires of the body (Ephesians 2:1-3), it is by His love they are created anew to love as children of God.
Love comes from God, and it flows freely by the Spirit in the hearts and through the lives of His beloved children. Such love is the mark of the Christian, even as 1 John 4:7-8 explains, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Like Father, like son is the expected spiritual reality for those who are born again. It is so because of the indwelling Spirit whose fruit is love (Galatians 5:22).
The walk of Christ and His willing sacrifice has set the parameters when it comes to defining what God’s kind of love looks like. Even as 1 John 3:16-17 reminds us, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” The example of Jesus is one of putting the needs of others ahead of one’s own, even if it requires great sacrifice.
Set against the sin-rooted backdrop of man’s depravity and its associated selfish ways, the life of Jesus shines in the glorious beauty of its radical selflessness. His was a perfect life. Never demanding. Always loving. Always serving. Its glorious divergence cries out to us from the majesty of His inner virtues. He’s marked out for all a narrow path of self-sacrifice which beckons to those weary of the broad path’s selfish and hurtful ways. The cross represents to the believer not only the basis of salvation, it also sets before us the manner of life to which we are called, according to the example of Christ in His self-sacrificing way of thinking and living. Jesus is the best example to us in every virtuous way, and especially when it comes to loving one another. We do well to follow in His steps!
I came across this quote recently. It reminds us that to follow in Jesus’ steps is to take the path less traveled. But in doing so, we’ve a tremendous opportunity to point others in Jesus’ direction. It said, “Be that one. That one who forgives when the deep offense has been committed. That one who loves when no one else does. That one who gives kindness to those who are mean. Be that one who looks past the insult, instead of seeing the pain that motivated it. That one who shines light upon those who sit in utter darkness. Because the impact of being that one runs far and wide. It brings healing to the wounded, joy to the sad, and hope to those in despair. Be that one.” Imitate God! Walk in love. Just like Jesus!
OH, TO BE LIKE THEE!
Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.
Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.
Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.