Summary: If you want to be holy and whole, just like our Heavenly Father, then walk in love and walk in the light of Christ.

Six-year-old little Jenny complained to her mother of a tummy ache. “That’s because your tummy is empty,” her mother replied. “You’d feel better if there were something in it.”

That evening, their pastor stopped for a visit and later commented that his head had hurt him all day. Little Jenny quickly advised, “That’s because it’s empty. You’d feel better if there was something in it.” (Tal D. Bonham, Another Treasury of Clean Jokes, Broadman Press, 1983)

Children are great imitators. For good or ill, they mimic their parents in almost everything. It’s scary when I see my adult sons doing some of the same things I used to do, like leaving the cupboards open or the dishes unrinsed in the sink. Sometimes, it drives Sandy crazy, but I kind of like the idea that my boys take after me, quirks and all.

So it is with our Heavenly Father. He loves it when we imitate Him. He loves it when His children take after Him. That’s because He loves us so very much. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 5, Ephesians 5, where this is very clear.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (ESV)

As the runners for the Special Olympic, 400-meter dash were being helped to their marks, a gentleman in a three-piece suit jumped up in the stands and began yelling, “Lenny! Lenny!” An overweight middle-aged man with Down's Syndrome looked up from the track in the direction of the voice.

The gun sounded and the runners leaped forward – all except Lenny, who was dead last and losing ground. He had a preoccupation with his hands, which he wrung furiously as he tried to make his way around the track. Pointing to him, the gentleman in the stands turned around and addressed his section of the crowd. “That's my son, Lenny. Isn't he doing great?”

When Lenny reached the last turn on the track, the other runners had already finished. The gentleman began to shout encouragement to his son, throwing his fists in the air in a triumphant gesture. “Great job, Lenny! Way to go, son. Keep going, you're doing great!” He turned to his section again, and reminded everyone that his son was about to finish. They applauded dutifully, feeling somewhat embarrassed. Then when Lenny crossed the finish line, the man made his way down to the track and hugged his son, who was exhausted, drooling, and still wringing his hands.

Kevin Young, a spectator in the crowd, watched them embrace, and he began to weep. As he thought about what he saw, it seemed as though God was saying to him, “You're like Lenny in this race I have called you into. You're challenged, perplexed, far behind the pack. Most days, you're a pitiful pile of exhaustion. But I'm here cheering you on. I love you the way that man loves his son.” (Kevin Young, “Cliffhanger: Reaching Out for the Father,” Pray! Jan/Feb 2003, p. 40-41)

So many people had fathers that loved them only when they did well. But our Heavenly Father loves us no matter how much we struggle. He’s not ashamed to call us His children, and He’s there cheering us on in this race called life. God loves us. He really does! And He wants us to…

LOVE EACH OTHER just like He loves us.

He wants us to show the same kind of compassion to others that he showed us. He wants us to give grace to one another.

That’s what the previous verse is all about – Ephesians 4:32. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another – literally, giving grace to each other, as God in Christ forgave you – or as God in Christ gave grace to you.

THEREFORE, be imitators of God, as beloved children. The “therefore” looks back to the “grace” at the end of the last chapter. God cheers us on, not only when we do well, but also when we struggle. And that’s what He wants us to do for each other.

God wants us to give GRACE to one another, and He wants us to give ourselves to one another too.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (ESV)

Love is all about sacrifice. Love is all about giving ourselves up for others.

Just this last September (September 30, 2013), Dwayne and Dawna Johnson of Buena Vista, Colorado had the perfect day planned. The electrician and high school football coach and his wife took their two teenage daughters on a day hike up a popular mountain trail. But then the unthinkable happened: a rockslide barreled down at them at a vantage point looking up on Agnes Vaille Falls.

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