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Imitators of God
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My Bible reading recently lead me to a verse in Ephesians that immediately caught my attention. Though only a short verse, I stopped to read it over and over.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1).

Imitators. That word grabbed me. As a parent of small children, I know a thing or two about their uncanny ability to imitate whatever they see or hear. Take my two-year-old son, for example. The other day I called him to stop playing and come upstairs to change clothes. He immediately yelled back (in just the right whiny and complaining tone), “Oh, man!” I’m sure he heard Dad and Mom use that same phrase and decided to add a little slang to his own vocabulary. I couldn’t stop chuckling and was thankful that he obeyed in spite of his complaint.

We all know that toddlers’ imitation accomplishes more than mere entertainment for adults. It plays a key role in the development process. Curious to learn more about this phase, I ran a quick search on the Internet and found an interesting article on the Parents.com web site (www.parents.com). This particular article, reprinted from the February 2001 issue of Parents magazine, is entitled “What Your Child Learns By Imitating You”. In it, the author describes imitation as crucial to the child’s development of numerous skills ranging from language to social behavior. The article goes on to say, “For one-year-olds, imitation follows a four-step process: watching and listening, processing the information, attempting to copy a behavior, and practicing.”

Naturally for Children

Imitation comes so naturally for children. Adults may continue imitating to a certain extent, but I venture to guess that it is not always God that we imitate. As Paul told the Ephesians, we need to become like “dearly loved children”, and that means putting on our “imitating hats” and looking to God.

When I first read Ephesians 5:8, I questioned how exactly we might begin imitating God. Thankfully, Parents magazine inadvertently gives us a good place to start. If the four-step process works for one-year-olds, perhaps it will work for us as well.

1. Watch and listen to God. Spend time in prayer and Bible study, and be careful not to do all the talking. Take time to observe God.

2. Process the information. Let it sink in; don’t just read it and forget it.

3. Attempt to copy the behavior. Apply the information to your life in whatever way possible. Live what you learn.

4. Practice. We cannot expect God’s ways to come naturally on the first try. Imitating God challenges us and may even require serious life changes. Yet, with the encouragement and assistance of our heavenly Parent, we may, through imitating, develop into the children God desires us to become.

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