Just as a child imitates his parents, since they have the same DNA and nature, so believers are to imitate the personality and qualities of God (e.g., Luke 6:36: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful”). In Ephesians 4:32, Paul had just laid down the command to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Then he added, “Be imitators of God” (5:1).
This sequence of commands is tied to the command in Ephesians 5:2 by the connector “and,” which could be translated as “that is.” This explains how the believer should imitate God: by walking in love as God does.
The “walk” of the believer is a major focus of Paul’s writings to the churches: we are to walk worthily (Eph 4:1), different from the world (4:17), in the light (5:8), and in wisdom (5:15). Our text focuses on walking in love and sacrificing to bring sinners to Christ.
Just as a child learns to draw an object by tracing it until he can reflect the original image accurately, so the believer is to pattern his life and priorities after the original likeness of Christ as seen in the Scripture.
The mold of our model is seen in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
The love of Christ was placed in our hearts (Rom 5:5) to lead us to the sacrificial giving of ourselves to others and to demonstrate the amazing truth of Christ’s love for them. The mandate is that we give of ourselves for the spiritual benefit of the undeserving, undesirable, and uncared–for people around the globe.
Nothing is as sweet or pleasing to our God as a free–willed child who gives up his or her life for the benefit of others, just as Jesus did when He came to earth. Walking in the love of Christ is unique to Christianity.
“Lord, I confess that I tend to think so much about my needs and wants that I seldom give a thought to the needs of those around me. Today, Lord, I want to be Your hands and feet to care about the people in my life.”