You know, it can be difficult and confusing sometimes in this world of ours to know exactly what behavior is okay and what words are okay to say. We have looked so far at many things that must be grown within us as the City on a Hill. Behaviors we have to put off and behaviors we have to put on. We haven't touched much on thought processes, but we will get there soon. But for now, let's take a look at what it takes to BE the City on a Hill - Part 1.
There are, I believe, three aspects to being the City on a Hill that we are called to be that separates us from the world. This will be a three part look at these areas, but it is still a part of our series, Building the City on a Hill. So, the three areas are:
- Walking in Love
- Walking in Light
- Walking in Wisdom
Today, we will explore walking in love. Ephesians 5:1,2 says
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (2) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
All the italics in those two scriptures are mine. I am trying to highlight what I think are some key concepts in the scripture that will be foundational for walking in love. I want to begin with "imitators of God...as children."
The word imitator in the original Hebrew in this context means follower of God. If we go to 1 Peter 1, the concept is expanded a little bit.
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (14) as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; (15) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (16) because it is written, "BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."
Obedient means "attentive, compliant." For those of you that have children, do you remember when they were little and learning this or the first time? Do you remember doing what you wanted them to do and then watching them trying to imitate what you did? How many times did it take for them to master what you were trying to teach? How many times did they try to imitate what you were doing by just watching you with no prompting from you? According to Paul, this is what we are to do. We are to be attentive and compliant to what God wants us to do.
1 Peter 4:1-2 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, (2) that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
To walk in love, we have to arm ourselves with the same mind Christ had. What was His mind? His mind was the Will of the Father. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. He only wanted the will of the Father to be fulfilled.
Luke 22:42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."
Even unto the death that Jesus knew was coming, He prayed to let the will of the Father be done and not His own. We should be arming (equipping as with weapons) ourselves with the same mind. Even unto the death we all know will come to us one day, be it our natural deaths or a choice we have to make, we should want the will of the Father to be fulfilled regardless of what we ourselves want. Why? 1 Peter 4:2 above says that Jesus did not live in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. He was so focused on His mission, His purpose, the Father's plan and will that Jesus did not live to do what He wanted to do. He lived to do the will of the Father. As children of God, imitators of Him, we should be so attentive to the Father that we are living to see the will of the Father fulfilled. Jesus was born of man and of God. When we are saved, we are born into the Spirit of Christ. We, too, are born of God at that point, by God's design.
John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
As children borne of God, we are to imitate the behavior and words of our Father. What does that mean we are to do?
Luke 6:36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
There is not a lot of mercy practiced in today's world. And, yet, we who are followers of God, are instructed to be merciful jsut as our Father is merciful. I know that I for one do not deserve what He has given me, the love He has shown me, the grace He has extended to me. None of us do and it can be so difficult to look at many and not extend the same mercy that we have.
Matthew 5:46-47 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Here, Jesus said that it doesn't really matter if we extend love to only those that love us. Anyone can do that and find it to be easy. Even the heathens love each other. But what about loving those that are hard to love? What about loving those that treat us badly, that abuse our kindness? What about loving our enemies! How are we to do all of that? We imitate what Jesus did. We reach out and love them anyway. It does not matter what they say or what they do, We are to imitate what Jesus said when He said, Father, forgive them for know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
As a child of God, what are you doing? Are you imitating your Father as you learn to crawl, walk, and run through this life He has given you? I know I have a lot of work to do with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit to truly be an imitator of my Father in heaven. I know my earnest heart's desire is for the world to see Christ in me. What is your heart's desire? Are you imitating the love of the Father to the point where it is His will you want to see fulfilled and not your own? It is tough. It is difficult. It is hard. Jesus never promised easy. He only promised He would be with us through every moment of this tough, difficult, hard life, wonderful and exciting life we live.
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Let me hear your praise reports and prayer requests. I would love to rejoice with you in victories and pray with you through the valleys. Email me at [email protected]