I remember as a child building things along side my dad. While he worked on various repairs of the house or one of a number of construction products, I would pound nails into scrap pieces of boards as I “built” some rickety contraption. A few decades later while push mowing my yard, I smiled as I looked behind me to see one of my young daughters following my path, “mowing” the yard by pushing a popper toy.
Children are masters of imitation. They learn language by listening and mimicking the sounds of those around them. They pick up our habits and our mannerisms – yes, even those we wish they would ignore – because imitation is rooted in how they learn and grow. My wife is right handed but ties her shoes in left handed knots. Why? Because her father is left-handed and she learned by watching him. Who we are as adults is often based upon these innocent imitations of our parents as we grew up.
As life comes full circle, we use the natural instinct of imitation to help guide our own children. King Solomon did this. Of his own children he wrote, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26. He sought to win the heart of his son but while also living the kind of life which, when imitated, would keep his children protected, and always in the presence of the Lord.
Paul touched on this topic when he instructed the Ephesians, and us, to “be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1. The fully trusting mentality we had as children when we imitated our parents is the exact same mentality we ought to have toward God. We consider His mannerisms and His wisdom with attention to even the finest of details so we can have these same mannerisms and wisdom in our own lives.
This is what God means when He tells us to not get caught up in the distractions and perversions of the sinful world around us, but “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” 1 Peter 1:15. We need to mimic the Lord in all His holiness. We withdraw ourselves from wickedness because our Father remains separate from sin and defilement. We have mercy and grace to those around us because He shows mercy to thousands, those who love Him. Exodus 20:6.
One of the greatest aspects of our child-like imitation of God is in the area of love. “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.” Ephesians 5:2. We see how Jesus loved by putting the needs of others before His own. He put aside His throne and His glory because He recognized we were unable escape the consequences of our sins. He did not undermine our need to faithfully obey our Father’s commands; yet, he embraced those who recognized their shortcomings and humbled themselves before a mutual Father. Jesus loved to His own hurt and gave even His own life so He could make our lives better. This is the kind of love we ought to imitate in our own lives.
Seek to know your Father, watch His ways, and imitate Him as the dear child you are.
Jeremy Morris, his wife, and children attend the Church of Christ off of Murray Road. He can be reached at email@example.com.