One of the greatest callings for a Christian is to be an imitator of God (Ephesians 5:1, NASB)—we are to grow in His likeness, such as His holiness, righteousness, and goodness. Though it may sound intimidating, we’ve been given a living model of what this looks like in the life of Jesus.
As Christians, we’re called to live as Christ did, growing the fruit of godliness that Christ exhibits—love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)—and shedding habits and behaviours that do not follow His example.
However, this is much easier said than done. I grew up being exposed to the Christian faith, but my life was largely influenced by the movies I watched, the music I listened to, and the friends I had. I did not understand what it meant to be a Christian—until God convicted me of my sin through a sermon I heard on YouTube.
When God saved me, I found it easy, by His grace, to imitate Him in some aspects of my life. But there was one area that I found particularly besetting: my speech was still peppered with coarse jesting, cussing, and lying—the kind of impurity that Paul clearly points out as “not fitting” amongst Christians (Ephesians 5:4, NASB).
As Luke 6:45 reminds us, our speech reflects the condition of our hearts, and my foolish talk reflected a heart that was still, in part, shaped by the world. And so, I realised that my struggle with my tongue wasn’t just a matter of changing the words that I used, but I needed to examine my heart and thoughts, and put aside “the fruitless deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). While it is impossible to never sin again while we remain in our physical bodies, we shouldn’t be living a life of persistent sinning with no confession or repentance.
Conversely, a heart that knows God is marked by thanksgiving (v. 4). When we speak words of thanksgiving, it encourages and edifies those around us, and also transforms us from within. When our hearts are tuned towards thanksgiving, we become more aware of all that God has given us, and can begin to replace our complaints and grumblings with words and songs of praise. A thankful speech then becomes an outflow of gratitude for what we have received in Christ Jesus.
As children of light (v. 8), Paul also exhorts us to seek to please the Lord in all we do (v. 10). We do so by walking “in the way of love” (v. 1), following in the footsteps of the Light of the World—Jesus. And the best place to start is by going back to our Bibles, so we will know who Jesus really is, and can correctly imitate Him in all our ways by filling our thoughts and hearts with His words, His actions, and His attitudes.
It’s been a few years now since I’ve started on my journey in imitating Christ. Over time, I’ve seen how He has gradually transformed my speech and helped me learn to extend the grace I’ve received from Him to others through the way I speak.
Striving to imitate Christ is not easy, but God has given us the Holy Spirit to live within us and to help us in our struggle against sin. He is the one who produces the fruit of God’s light in us (v. 9). The more we walk in step with Him, the more God’s will for our lives will become clearer to us, and our lives will bear the marks of His love, grace, and truth.
—By Evelyne Huston, Kenya
Questions for reflection
Father, thank you for rescuing me from darkness into Your light. May my heart overflow with thanksgiving as I reflect on Your wondrous love for me. Help me to keep looking to Jesus and walking in Your light, that I may please You in everything I say and do.
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