"The Hardest Command"
What is the most difficult command in the Bible? "Be imitators of God" or, as several other passages say, "Be holy as I am holy." HOW? The answer is not in God's perfection. The answer lies in verse 2.
The Most Difficult Command
A. How many times have you been driving down the road and seen some interesting driving habits? You know, the person who is texting on a cell phone with one hand and drinking coffee with the other?
B. The problem is those drivers are not safe. They think they are safe, they may not have ever had an accident doing those things in the past, but the truth is, that type of driving is not safe.
C. But then I examine those careless drivers and I see myself. Yes, I am guilty of unsafe driving thinking I am better than other drivers. But what would it take for people like me to drive more safely? An accident? An accident where someone is hurt? An accident where someone I love dies because of my poor driving?
D. My insurance offers a discount to my kids, NOT because of good grades, but if we as parents do not have accidents on our record. The reason why is because they believe kids imitate their parents driving habits.
I. Imitating – The Learning Stage
A. They say, “Imitation is greatest form of flattery.” But imitation is really the greatest form of education. A child learns by watching a parent. How my young boys want to do what they see their dad doing? That boy wants to learn from someone he trusts. That girl wants to follow in momma’s footsteps because that how she learns.
B. To some degree, you mold your children’s personality, actions, habits, and life. I am not saying children will grow up and become you, but they have many of your traits. I see both the good and the bad of me in my children. I hear it in their words, I see it in their actions, and I know that they learned that behavior by watching me.
C. Eph. 5:1. I want to start in the second half of that sentence. “as beloved children.” A parent who wants their child to grow up and be like them takes on a responsibility.
D. God says, “I am the parent, you are the child, imitate me.” That word “imitate” in Greek is mimetes, from which we get our English word “mimic.”
E. God says, “Mimic me.” It is a command, and the most difficult command in the bible. It can be phrased in several ways, but the most common is found in Lev. 11, 19, and 20 where we get the phrase, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
F. It would be great to say, “Well, that was only given to the Jews,” but Peter gives us the same admonition. Listen to 1 Pet. 1:14-16. The calling to be like God is a calling to separate you from evil.
G. I imitate God by walking as God walks. I imitate God by separating myself from the evil that so easily entangles me. The command to imitate God is not easy. It requires diligence in my everyday walk. I can’t just skate by and hope I don’t have any really problems. I have to have a role model who helps me live differently. God says, “That’s me, and I will show you what I am like by becoming flesh and living among you. Then you can walk in my footsteps.”
II. Imitating Love
A. READ Eph. 5:2. I am a loved child of God. I am a chosen, blessed, rich child of God. My sins were abolished and I am free. Free from the bondage and weight that sin had placed upon me. Free from smell of filth and garbage that sin was in my life. Now, in Christ, I am a sweet smelling, pleasing aroma before God. I and know that because I first saw it in Christ, and he taught me how to walk.
B. If you could summarize God’s character, His attitude and action into one word that word would be LOVE. John simply states, “God is love.” When John gave us that phrase he did it in the same context that Paul writes in our text today. Listen to 1 John 4:7-11.
C. If you want to imitate God then the calling is to imitate his love. That love was seen in Jesus who loved you so deeply and so completely that he was willing to take you sin upon himself and pay the price for sin – death. The cross was a symbol of torture, but to us it is a symbol of love.
D. To love as God loves, to walk as Jesus walked, to live in holiness and righteousness requires of me to learn to love deeply. This idea of imitating God and walking in love really is the most difficult command, yet it can be the most fulfilling even in this life. There is a difference between a “need” love and a “gift” love. A child expresses a “need” love, Jesus expressed on the cross a “gift” love. That’s imitating God. That’s the calling for you and me.
E. The first aspect of learning to love is learning to love God first. I enjoy sin. The sin that seeks to capture me, lures me into a false sense of joy. But as I learn to love God first, I realize that sin and its false pretense of love and joy is really evil that drags me away from the real love and joy found in a life that walks as Jesus walked.
F. Think of the transformation of Saul to the Apostle Paul. What was it that changed him from seeking to kill Christians to becoming the greatest missionary? He fell in love with God through Jesus Christ. Paul lived his life imitating Jesus. He loved others as Jesus loved and he found that secret to a joyous and free life. READ Phil. 4:11-13.
A. My children will follow my example. To some degree their speech will reflect my speech. Their attitude towards others will reflect my attitude. Their willingness to imitate God will reflect how they have seen me imitate God.
B. Does that cause me to reflect on my life? Yes. The more I can learn to live in love, sacrificial love, like Jesus does for me, the better chance my children will have of learning to imitate God.
C. Jesus gave you and me the human example of God’s love, let’s imitate God. Let’s walk in love that is sacrificial, that longs for the other to better than what they could without our help, comfort, and support. That’s the calling today. If we can help you “walk in love.” Then come as we stand and sing.