Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, June 4, 2012

As Dear Children

Ephesians 5:1--Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children:

Similes are used to clarify a point or to create an image that helps an audience understand something. The above verse contains a very simple simile that gives insight into how we should follow God. When most people read this, they probably automatically link it to the Gospels, when Jesus said the kingdom of Heaven is made up of children and taught that we should be humble. They also probably make the note that, since we are to follow God as children, this means He is our Father. Then they move on. While both of these points are true and essential to following God and having a strong relationship with Him, there is much more that can be gleaned from this comparison. Just sit and meditate for a while on exactly how children follow others, whether it be their father or someone else. Here's what I came up with:

1) Children follow out of love. Children will follow who or what they love. If they are attracted to it or if it catches their attention, they will seek after it. The base reason a child follows anything is because it has in some way interested them and they have given some form of love to it. The number one thing in our relationship with Christ is love. Out of love will flow everything else we need in our relationship with him: humility, joy, obedience, faithfulness, peace, a longing for Him, and so on. As Jesus said in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." It is when we have a heart full of love for God that we can live a life full of God. That is why Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts us in Ephesians 3:17 to be "rooted and grounded in love." He goes on to say that this is how we come close to knowing "the love of Christ, which passeth all knowledge" and become "filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). Everything stems from love.

2) Children follow closely and with focus. If a child is set on following something, he or she is not going to let it out of sight. The object is going to be zeroed in on and will be kept at a close distance at all times. This way, the child never loses focus of what he or she is trying to follow. This is how we should be. Remember Peter walking on the water toward Jesus? He was fine as long as he looked at Jesus, but as soon as he took his eyes off God, down he went. That's exactly how we are: as soon as we take our focus off Christ, down we go. Let us all be as the Psalmist says in Psalm 57:7, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise." Stay close to and focused on God. He wants to have the most intimate relationship with you possible.

3) Children follow with trust. Though children are usually by nature trusting, they are also good discerners of character. That is why a child will never follow someone he or she doesn't trust. When a child does follow someone, he or she has faith that who they follow will never lead them wrong. We can obviously trust God. He is faithful, perfect, just, righteous, and holy. He holds all of creation in His hand and is Sovereign over all. There is none like Him, and none that we can trust more. When we trust God with complete abandon, we will be free of care and worry, and our lives will be blessed beyond belief. Simply have faith in the Lord of Heaven and let Him take control of your life. All you have to do is keep in step and follow where He leads. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

4) Children follow with joy. When a child is truly caught up in something, his or her joy is something to behold. We should be the same way with God. We should be so excited about God that our lives are filled with joy that overflows onto everyone around us. Unfortunately, there are not many Christians like this today. We complain when we should be content (Philippians 2:14; 4:11; Hebrews 13:5). But Christians should be the happiest people on earth! We should realize the amazing gift we've been given and be joyful in it! "Rejoice in the Lord alway" (Philippians 4:4). Always remember that your joy and contentment should not rely on your situation or circumstances; it should be based on the fact that God has forgiven you of your sins and is always with you. As Jesus told the sick of palsy after healing him, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matthew 9:2). Jesus told the healed man to draw his joy from the forgiveness of his sins, not in the restoration of his physical body--though that miracle is certainly something to shout about too! Get excited about following God. It is an honor, privilege, and miracle that the Holiest of holies, the highest Authority, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the Prince of peace, the Alpha and Omega, the omniscient and omnipotent Creator would allow us to be like Him! How amazing!

5) Children follow without shame. Coupled with the immense joy a child has when following something is a lack of shame. Children get so caught up in whatever game they are playing or whatever they are following that they do not care what others think. Honestly, they probably didn't care to begin with. We should be the same way. Don't worry about what others think. Your relationship with and obedience to God is far, far more important that the opinion of any other person, whether it be a parent, friend, spouse, president, celebrity, boss, or whoever. Fear of others' opinions is probably the biggest roadblock to serving God in every Christian's life; I know it is in mine. Always seek to please God rather than man (Matthew 10:28; Acts 5:29). This relates to several of the previous points: Trust God, knowing that His purpose is more important and that He will provide the grace and wisdom needed for every situation, and let your love for and joy from Him abound so that you are content with God's presence and what He thinks of you, not what others think.

6) Children follow by imitation. Imitation is the way children follow someone. It is a natural part of who they are, and this is the main point of the simile in this verse. We are not to simply lag behind God as He leads. We are to actively live out Christ in every second of our lives, imitating Him in all we do. We are to be holy, as He is (Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:15, 16). A huge part of this is living without fear of what others think. When we live like Jesus, the world is going to think we're very strange. Often they will tell us so, and most of the time it won't be in a nice way. But we must, as mentioned earlier, put our worries about this behind us and realize that God is more important. As a preacher once said, "You might be the only Bible some people ever read." Show Jesus in every aspect of your life so others will see Him and be drawn to Him. Seek to "do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

7) Children encourage others to follow. Lastly, when a child follows someone or something, he or she usually wants others to join in. Children are not selfish in their fun; they realize that the more there are, the more fun there is. It is also easy for them to convince other children to follow because of their joyful enthusiasm--actually, this enthusiasm makes it so others want to join without even being asked! As Christians, it is our God-given duty to convince others to follow God, first and foremost in salvation. If we lived our lives following God as dear children, it would be much easier for us to bring the lost to salvation and to encourage fellow believers to live their lives for Christ too.We would be like the children who simply draw others into a game because others see them having so much fun. We should be so excited about God that we can't help but tell others about Him and how great He is. We need to realize that the Gospel is the greatest news ever brought to mankind, and we need to tell every person we can about it--it's too important not to. I encourage you: "Let your light so shine before men, that may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

So there it is. That's what the Holy Spirit has given me about following Him as a dear child. That's also the power and magnificence of God's precious Word: all that came from one little simile. I hope you will take these points to heart and seek to forever be a childlike follower of God. However, if you have no relationship with God, you cannot follow Him. It simply can't be done. In order to follow God and live an amazingly blessed life like the one partially described above, you have to be saved. Please check out the Salvation tab above for more information.

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