Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year 2012 Resolution- Imitators of Christ (Eph.4:32-5:2)


When Leonardo da Vinci was painting The Last Supper, he had a bitter argument with a fellow artist. So enraged, Leonardo decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. In that way the hated artist’s face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled.

Leonardo continued to work on the mural. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Jesus. Something hindered his artistic ability. Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow artist was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas’ face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then could he paints Jesus’ face and complete the masterpiece.

Out of love, the Apostle Paul appeals to the Ephesian believers to be examples of Christ by being kind, compassionate, and forgiving to others. He reminds them that it is Jesus’ method; it must be theirs as well.

Willard H. Taylor wrote, “Surely it is not possible for natural man readily and freely to forgive others, nor to maintain equanimity of spirit in the midst of the aggravating experiences of life. He must come to know Christ intimately to be so fully united with Him that he has a new nature.”   

Our new nature helps us become imitators of Christ. The only Christ our world may see is Christ in us. Therefore, the Christian has a solemn, yet joyful, responsibility to mirror the beauty of Jesus to a waiting world.

Our test draws three very important truths: kindness, compassion, and forgiveness – characteristics Jesus exhibited throughout His ministry and qualities we must exhibit in our relationships.


Kindness is the ability to show understanding sympathy, and tolerance – one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal.5:22). Jesus taught kindness as He dealt with children. The disciples rebuked Him because He was taking so much time with children. But Jesus showed His kindness to children by taking them onto His lap and saying, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matt.19:14).

Jesus taught us to be kind, even to our enemies, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35).

In The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop noted, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). We are to put on kindness as we would a garment.

A Yale University president gave wise counsel to a former president of Ohio State, “Always be kind to you’re A and B students. Someday one of them will return to your campus as a good professor. And also be kind to your C students. Someday one of them will return and build a $ 2 million science laboratory.”  Although we are not to be kind for the reward, kindness doe spay.


Compassion is that ability to share in the suffering of others. Matthew tells us that, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). Christ’s compassion was illustrated at the tomb of Lazarus when He openly wept with Lazarus’s family (John 11:35). So genuine was His compassion that even the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (v.36). We must exhibit compassion even in the manner in which we speak to people.

A church needed a pastor. The first candidate came and preached on hell. The next Sunday, another candidate came who also preached on hell. His teaching was the same as that of the first preacher, when the members of the Church were called upon to vote, they answered, “The first one spoke as if he were glad that people were going to hell, while the second seemed genuinely sorry for it.” Abraham Lincoln said, “I am sorry for the man who can’t feel the whip when it is laid on the other man’s back.”


Jesus commanded His followers to be forgiving, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt.6:14-15); “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

Jesus demonstrated His own teaching about forgiveness as He hung in agony on the Cross. Looking down at those who had crucified Him and were gambling over His clothing, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, “I never forgive and I never forget.” To which John Wesley responded, “Then, sir, I hope you never sin.”  When we reflect on how much God has forgiven us, it behooves us to be forgiving to others.

When Joseph’s brothers came before him in Egypt asking for food, he faced a very stiff test of forgiveness. Years before, his brothers had threatened to kill him; then they sold him into slavery. But Joseph forgave them. Even after their father, Jacob, died and they feared Joseph might take revenge, he assured them of his complete forgiveness. Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is one of the best ways to imitate Jesus to a lost world and to free our own spirits of bitterness.

The story is told of a seminary student in Chicago who faced a difficult forgiveness test. The only job he could find was driving a bus on the south side of Chicago. One day a gang of tough teens boarded his bus but refuses to pay the fare. After several days of harassment, the seminarian spotted a policeman on the corner, stopped the bus, and reported them. The officer made them pay, but then he got off.

When the bus rounded a corner, the gang robbed the seminarian and beat him severely. He pressed charges, and the gang was rounded up, tried and found guilty. But as soon as the Jail sentences were given, the young Christian saw their spiritual need and felt pity for them. So he asked the Judge if he could serve their sentence for them. The gang members and the Judge were dumbfounded. However, his request was denied, because it was too late.

We all stand in need of forgiveness. Jesus’ forgiveness brings peace. Our forgiveness to others restores broken relationships. As Corrie ten Boom has said, When God buries our sins in the deepest sea. He posts a sign that reads, No Fishing! We should cease fishing when we have forgiven others.




At the base of the Statue of Liberty is the beautiful sonnet, “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus. The message of the church is reflected in the last five lines of this sonnet,

            Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
            With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
            Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand,
            A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
            Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
            Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
            Glows world-wide welcome, her mild eyes command
            The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
            “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
            With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
            Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
            The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
            Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
            I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
                                                                        -  Emma Lazarus

May we become imitators of Christ through our kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.



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