Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
We recently studied this in Casa Barrios, and it really made an impact on me.
So many times we see children imitate their parents. Of course for me the most vivid picture in my mind is our little guy playing the guitar. At 20 months he doesn’t really know how to play it, and to a bystander it may be an annoying racket, but when he picks that thing up he just goes to town, playing and singing with all his heart. To us it’s indiscernible, but to him it’s a joyful noise! He has no shame in it, no hesitation, no worries because as far as he’s concerned he’s simply imitating his father. Of course that’s not the only thing he imitates, think about how he loves to play with the XBOX controller, he’s not playing a game, he doesn’t even know how to play the game, but because he sees you playing with the controller he wants to do it as well.
Son you may not notice these things, but over time we have seen the same thing with you, especially when you were little like he is.
Children have a natural tendency to imitate the behaviors they see in their parents. We see this all around us, and as parents we often fail to remember that the behaviors we see are often a reflection of the behavior that we model.
Just like the little guy loves to imitate us, we should live to imitate our Heavenly Father. That’s a heavy calling! How do you imitate the one true God, the only example of perfection to ever exist, the alpha and the omega? It’s hard to envision what God looks like, or how he acts, so the first thing we need to remember is that Jesus is God! So if we want to imitate God, we should imitate Jesus Christ.
So Paul gives us this exhortation. He says, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ”. He doesn’t just say love others, or love God, or be loving, he say’s to live a life FILLED with love. Not ¼ of our lives in love. Not ¾ of our lives in love. He says that our life should be FILLED with love.
But how do we do that? Well, Practical Paul gives us that as well.
“He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us” Jesus’ love was shown vividly through his sacrifice on the cross. So if his love was shown through sacrifice, then the ultimate show of our love will be our sacrifice for other people. In this world the idea of sacrificing for others is foreign to the general population. Everyone wants to get ahead, everyone focuses on moving themselves forward, developing themselves, and making sure that THEY are getting taken care of. But we should live a life serving others and sacrificing for them!
Of course we may not be sacrificing our physical life like Jesus did for us (although, I pray that if it ever comes to that point, we would have the courage to stand in another’s place). So what would it look like to show love to others through sacrifice in today’s, 1st world, culture? There are many things we can do to live sacrificially.
We can give up our position in line, giving someone else the ability to go before us.
We can spend less money on us, and more money helping others
We can open doors for other people (not only is it courteous but it puts them above yourself)
We can give up time spent on ourselves watching TV and do someone else’s chores
These are just a couple of ways we can sacrifice for other people. Just remember, “Sacrifice” for the sake of getting praise or looking good is not sacrifice at all, it’s simply doing something nice…with selfish motive. When we put down our desires and comforts, and act only out of Love for others, then our sacrifice truly shows the Love of Jesus.
I love you guys, what are some ways you think we can sacrifice for other people?