It is not easy to love people well over a long period of time.
Even though we know the importance of love, we often have many excuses for giving up.
Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul gives us so many different motivations for persevering in love.
We’ve noted one.
We are forgiven.
Now, let’s think about another.
We’ve been adopted.
Paul says, “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children.”
And I think we would be foolish to run by that because it is really a remarkable thing Paul is saying. He is saying we are children of God. And the reason that is a really remarkable thing for Paul to say is because of what he’s already said to be true of us before salvation. Before we were believers Paul describes us not as children of God, but Ephesians 2:3, instead “we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.”
And how did we go from being children of wrath to being children of God?
The answer to that question is found in the biblical doctrine of adoption.
You see God’s design in saving us was bigger than just forgiving us, it was to actually bring us into his family as children. This is one of the fundamental salvation realities we find running throughout the book of Ephesians.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:5 that God predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ and in Ephesians 2:19 that we are no longer strangers and aliens now that we are Christians, but we are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
And household is what?
What Paul is saying is that as a believer you have been given a new identity as a child of God.
And while there are many great privileges in salvation, this has to be one of the greatest of them all. And it is the basis for this call to imitate God, as children of God. As God’s children we should want to become more and more like our father.
When there is and I am sure you have probably noticed this that very often when there is a good relationship between a father and his child, especially if that child respects his father, what happens is that child imitates his father.
They walk the way they walk, they talk the way they talk, they joke the way they joke. There is a family resemblance in more than just looks, but also in actions.
And of course, Paul’s point is that there should be a family resemblance between us and God, especially in this matter of forgiving love.
Now, the problem is and this is where we really get things wrong.
Because we are good at imitating, that comes natural, we are always imitating, but we all too often we are imitating the wrong people. We often imitate whom? We imitate the person in front of us. They are friendly to us, we are friendly to them. They are unkind to us, we are unkind to them.
What are we doing?
Instead of focusing on that person though, you know who you should be focusing on in that moment, not the person in front of you, and how they are treating you, but God. Imitate Him!
You are His child.
Now and I think here’s the problem for us when it comes to loving others.
It’s that we think we deserve to be God’s child. We don’t get what a great privilege this is. Whenever there is a lack of love for others, mark it down, there is too much love for ourselves. Whenever I am having a hard time loving someone else, I need to spend less time thinking about what they did to me and more time thinking about what I did to God and what I deserve.
That’s part of why relationships with difficult people are so good for us and why we should be thankful for these relationships, because you know what a relationship with difficult people does? It can drive you back to your relationship with God! Because you know what? You are difficult people.
Can you imagine a friendship with someone who was:
* Glory seeking
And yet that’s exactly the way we are so often with God, and yet how has God treated us? He hasn’t only forgiven us, he’s adopted us! He’s not only visited the orphanage and handed out some food, He’s brought the orphan into His family. And you know that illustration is too small, because we were not simply orphans, we were enemies of God and what I am saying is really loving other people sacrificially begins with believing that.
I am a child of God, and as His child, I want to be like Him in all the ways I can, as I grow up!