As you read Ephesians 5:1-33, reflect on how Paul asks us to live out the gospel in our relationships with others. Which of his exhortations is especially meaningful to you?
If you start reading Ephesians 5:1-33 at its beginning, you may miss the full power of an important theme. So start instead with Ephesians 4:32, in which Paul tells the Ephesians to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (NKJV).
As believers, we are called to model our behavior toward others on God’s forgiveness and grace toward us. We are to imitate God! (Compare Matthew 5:43-48.)
Paul contrasts this imitating-the-love-of-God lifestyle with the usual, pagan approach. Instead of treasuring others as brothers or sisters in the family of God, humans all too often use others for their own sexual pleasure and then brag about it (Ephesians 5:3-4). He warns that such an approach has no future in the new world God is planning (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Instead, believers are to turn from the darkness of their past and “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8-10), mimicking the Father’s love. Again, Paul warns us away from “works of darkness” done “in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12). By contrast, we are to live in the light of Christ (Ephesians 5:13-14). Rather than wasting our lives in drunkenness, we will be “redeeming the time” by offering thanks to God for His love (see Ephesians 5:15-21).
Paul extends his theme of imitating God’s love as he advises Christian husbands and wives. Christ’s self-sacrificing love for the church becomes the model for Christian husbands (Ephesians 5:25-33), while the loyalty of the church toward Christ becomes the model for Christian wives (Ephesians 5:22-24). Rather than using the gift of human sexuality in a debauched and selfish way, a Christian husband and wife focus on valuing and treasuring each other, becoming “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:28-33).
“Be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1, NKJV). By God’s grace, you are called today to live out that exhortation in your relationships with others.
|How does Ephesians 5:2, which tells us to “walk in love,” help us understand what Paul means in Ephesians 5:1 about being “imitators of God”?|