Summary: Paul continues on contrasting the life of an unbeliever over against a Christ follower. The point is there should be a difference! We are not to mimic those who are far from God, but rather, we should imitate God.
Imitation is called the sincerest form of flattery!
But we sometimes need to be careful who we are imitating!
A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn’t understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but he eventually got back on track and found the place. Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew left was the one on the front row.
So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too. When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down.
When the man held the cup and bread for the Lord’s Supper, he held the cup and bread. During the preaching, the recruit didn’t understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew. Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the recruit clapped too.
Then the preacher said some words that he didn’t understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing. So he sat down.
After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English, "I take it you don’t speak Spanish."
The missionary recruit replied, "No, I don’t. It’s that obvious?"
"Well, yes," said the preacher. "I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy, and would the proud father please stand up."
Today we see that Paul continues on contrasting the life of an unbeliever over against a Christ follower. The point is there should be a difference! We are not to mimic those who are far from God, but rather, we should imitate God.
How is that possible? How can we be like God? –
Like a child who imitates mom or dad. Watching them as they work and live. Copying their mannerisms, getting into dress up grown up clothes. (Now granted this is before they become teenagers and begin to think their parents don’t know anything and don’t know what they are talking about!)
Sometimes I think we act more like teenagers in our relationship to God than we do young children. Jesus said let the little children come unto me because to such belongs the kingdom of God. (Matt. 19:14)
Here Paul says, like little children, be imitators of God. But how?
Are we to perform miracles? Cast out demons? Heal the sick? Bring the rain? Move mountains?
How do we imitate God? Well, fortunately He tells us some ways to do that in our text!
First, let’s look at what we are not to do as those who are striving to be imitators of Christ.