Walking in Daddy’s Shoes

Title: Walking in Daddy's Shoes

Bible Book: Ephesians 5 : 1-20

Author: Mark Adams

Subject: Imitating God; Faithfulness; Christian Living



Children love to imitate their fathers—and I imagine all dads present this morning have a favorite memory of when their kids mimicked them in some way. One of my favorites comes from about 26 years ago—when Daniel was about three years old. I was serving as the Minister of Music and Youth at FBC, Damascus at the time—which means that Daniel was accustomed to seeing his dad wave his arms to lead people in the church to sing. Well, one night before our Sunday evening service I was in the back prepping the choir and Daniel slipped out of the pew and went up to the platform and began waving his arms. He told the pianist to play…which she graciously did…and then Daniel said, “Everybody sing!” I think the pianist played “Jesus Loves Me” or something like that and as Daniel directed everyone sang along. Someone was thoughtful enough to take this picture of my little boy mimicking his dad.

History is repeating itself because Lydia has already begun to imitate her father. The other day Ashley showed us a video where Lydia was trying to copy sounds Daniel made. He would cough and she would cough. Whatever noise he made with his mouth, she would try to imitate it.

As I said, that’s the way kids are. They love their dads and so they try to be like them. They imitate the way we walk and talk—and sing and cough!

By the way—it’s important that we dads always remember this. Our children are modeling their lives after ours—so we need to be sure to set a good example. I’m reminded of the story of a little boy who said several curse words one day and as punishment his mom sent him upstairs to his room. When the father got home, she told him what their son had said and the father was furious. He vowed, “I’ll teach that boy to curse!” and he began to storm up the steps to the child’s room.

About half-way up, he stepped on a roller skate that had been inadvertently left on the stairs and as he tumbled downward he let out a new expletive for every step he hit. Finally, when he got to the bottom, his wife said, “Honey, I think that’s enough for his first lesson!” I guess the moral of this story is that we dads need to watch where we step—and watch what we say…for little eyes are watching us…and little ears are listening to us…all the time.

I mention all this because in our text for this morning, Paul reminds us that, as Christians, God is our Father, and we should try and imitate Him. Paul goes on to give three ways we are to do this. Think of them as three traits of a God imitator.

I. First, he says that an imitator of God walks in LOVE.

Look at verses 1 and 2 again where Paul writes: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.”

By the way, this is not the only time where Christ followers are challenged to imitate God in the way we love. 1st John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” And, in Luke 6:35 Jesus said, “Love your enemies…and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”

To help his readers understand the KIND of love we are to imitate, Paul cites a perfect example. He said that we are to love in the same way that Christ loved. In other words our lives…our attitudes…our actions…our RE-actions…should be saturated with the caliber of love Jesus expressed…a self-sacrificial love—a love that places the needs of others above our own. Our Heavenly Father loves it when we imitate Him in this way. Paul says when we love like this it is like giving God a “fragrant offering”

To be clear—the kind of love I’m talking about is a Godly love—a love that is willing to give—willing to serve others—NO MATTER WHAT THE PERSONAL COST. When we truly walk in God’s love—when we follow Jesus’ example—we love others, whether they ASK for our love or not—whether they DESERVE to be loved or not—because that’s the way Jesus loves us.

Think of it. How did Judas repay Jesus’ loving service the night in the upper room when He washed his feet? Judas used his newly cleaned feet to walk out of that room and betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Well, our Lord knew Judas would do that—and yet Jesus still washed Judas’ feet. Jesus still loved him. Jesus knew how He would be mocked and rejected by the very people He would be dying for just a few hours later. Yet He loved them and showed love by going to the cross. Then, as He hung there bleeding and dying, He asked God to forgive them.

That’s the way WE are to love. That is the example we are to follow. That’s the kind of love we are to “walk” in. In our text, Paul goes on to cite specific WAYS that this kind of love “walks” or manifests itself.

A. First, he says it is seen in loving RELATIONSHIPS.

In other words we are to imitate God in the way we relate to others—and as I said, the way God relates is by GIVING. Our Heavenly Father is a GIVER!

I remember the day my father-in-law came to visit the day we brought Daniel home from the hospital. After seeing his first grandchild—Sue’s dad’s response was to get in the car and head for Toys’ ‘R’ Us. Once there he filled a shopping cart with gifts for Daniel—including a football. If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have bought that three-day-old baby a tricycle. That’s the way Don Baustert always was. He was always giving. When we were in seminary he was always sending checks to help us out. At Christmas he insisted the pile of gifts be as high as the Christmas tree itself. Don Baustert was a giver! Can you think of someone like that in your own life…someone who expresses his or her love for you by constantly giving you things—thoughtful things—things this person knows you need? Well, like my father-in-law, that person is walking in our Abba’s loving footsteps. He or she is following God’s example because our Heavenly Father has always been known as a GIVER. Think of it. In Genesis, He gave LIFE. In Exodus, He gave the LAW. In Joshua, He gave the LAND. In the Psalms, He gave STRENGTH and COMFORT. In the Gospels, He gave His SON. In Acts, He gave the HOLY SPIRIT. In Revelation, He gave HOPE. This is one way God loves. He gives. It’s His nature to do so. In fact, as James tells us, “EVERY good and perfect gift” is from our Heavenly Father. So, one way we imitate Him—one way we “walk in His shoes” is when we embrace a giving spirit toward others.

Of course, the PRIME example of God’s GIVING love is seen in the way He gives us what we need MOST—His forgiveness.

In fact, I think this is one of the best ways we can “walk in His loving shoes”—buy forgiving those who hurt us. Paul must have thought the same thing because back in verse 32 he said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Now—I know forgiving can be hard. As C. S. Lewis put it, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.” And all of us have learned this principle because all of us have people to forgive. I mean, if you’re married, there’s no doubt that you have something to forgive. If you have children or parents, or have siblings, you have something to forgive. If you have a boss or employees you have something to forgive. If you serve in ministry or volunteer in any area of the church, you have something to forgive. Unless you live and work ALONE in a morgue, you have something to forgive. In the course of human events it is inevitable that offenses will come so we all find ourselves faced with the opportunity to forgive. The question is, what will we do about it? Whose example will we follow when we are wronged? Who will we imitate in the way we respond? Paul says we should follow God’s example. We should walk in His forgiving footsteps.

Here’s a couple questions to ask yourself if you find it hard to do this. Question one: “If I did what this person did to me, would God forgive me?” If your immediate reaction is: “But pastor, I would never do what this person did!” then you are missing the point. On top of that, you are deceiving yourself because while you may not be guilty of the same offense, you are still guilty of sin. 1st John 1:8 plainly says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” And, James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at one point, has become guilty of all.” So, ask yourself, “If I did what this person did, would God forgive me?” Of course the answer is, “YES!” Question two: “Is there any sin I have committed for which God has not forgiven me?” To help you with your answer I would remind you of 1st John 1:9 where it says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, if we’ve confessed our sins, God HAS forgiven…and if God has freely forgiven us for all our sins, how could we not forgive others?

One of the most beautiful expressions of forgiving love was the amazing story of the conversion of the Auca Indians in South America. You may remember that in January 1956 these five young American missionaries were killed by these Indians. Eventually all five of the Auca killers became Christians and leaders of a congregation of believers that rose up among those people and worshiped near the spot where the missionaries died. In fact, the thatched Auca church, called “God’s Speaking-house,” was built by the five killers. How did this radical transformation come about? Because Rachel Saint, sister of martyred Nate Saint, and Betty Elliot, wife of the martyred Jim Elliot, went back to these people who had killed their loved ones and demonstrated in their walk of love the reality of forgiveness. They forgave their husbands’ killers—and in that scandalous act of grace, taught those people about the forgiving love of God…such that they became Christians and began to walk in love themselves.

To walk in our Abba’s footsteps—to imitate God—involves our embracing loving relationships by giving and forgiving the way He does.

Paul goes on to infer that another example of the way we do this—should be seen in our sexual ethics.

Let me remind you of the context in which this letter was written by saying the people of Ephesus lived in a city where sexual morals were non-existent. The dominant religion in that city was the worship of the multi-breasted goddess Diana and ritual prostitution was a way of life. Plus, in Ephesus there was a cultural acceptance of sexual perversion. To the people of that city it was seen as a valid, and even exalted way of life. So, when it came to their sexual behavior it was a challenge for those believers to walk in love. It meant, walking against the flow. And, things aren’t much better today in our culture where sexual practice has become more and more perverse. I mean, many people have come to think of others as little more than objects with which to satisfy their physical desires.

This week I read that D.C. has one of the highest rates of sex-trafficking in the world. Does that shock you as much as it does me? Recently, CNN investigated and reported on the sex slave ring in D.C. and during the investigation, CNN’s Barbara Starr interviewed this woman, Tina Frundt, a former trafficking victim turned activist who works at a non-profit organization for victims of sex trafficking called Courtney’s House. Frundt revealed to Starr that the average age of young girls being trafficked is between 11 and 14 years old, and for boys it is between six and nine years old.

At the close of the report, she said that “If President Obama walked out of his front door, at two or three in the morning and were only to go two blocks from the White House—he would see sex traffickers forcing women and girls out on the street every night.”

We hear shocking stories like this and think, “Well, that is horrible—but it’s not me. I’m not guilty of sexual sin.” And if you feel that way, look at verse 3. Paul says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.” I mean, in our text Paul doesn’t talk about prostitution and the GLARING sexual sins. He talks about HINTS. If we walk in our ABBA’s shoes…nothing we do or say will even HINT at sexual sin. I just wonder…how many times have you crossed the “HINT line?” Do the TV shows we watch…the MOVIES we rent…the books we read…and the music we listen to….do they HINT at sexual sin? Do they HINT at this self-centered, loveless RELATIONAL killer?

B. Paul goes on to say that walking in love not only seen in loving relationships. It is also seen in LOVING SPEECH.

He says that loving speech is gracious and thankful. It is forgiving and kind. The words that Paul uses here to describe UNLOVING speech are interesting. For example, the word for “obscenities” is from the word we translate as “filthiness.” Paul is saying that when we curse or swear we are using DIRTY words. Perhaps this is where parents got the idea of “washing our mouths out with soap” when we use obscenities. This week I read about a Christian woman who attended an anniversary dinner in honor of a friend. Part of the program included a so-called comedian who tried to entertain the crowd with filthy jokes and language to match. At one point the comedian’s throat became dry and he said to a waiter nearby, “Please bring me a glass of water.” At that point the Christian woman added, “And bring him a toothbrush and a bar of soap with it!”

But—back to our text. Here’s another interesting word. The word for “foolish talking” comes from the same word we get the word “moron.” This is the kind of talk that easily makes it into PG movies these days and is passed off as humor most of the time—when in reality it is the speech of morons and fools.

The phrase for “coarse joking” refers to talking dirty by innuendo. It is taking perfectly innocent situations or words and giving them perverse connotations. Do you ever do that—or do you know someone who does—someone who’s always using sexual innuendo…someone who is unloving in their speech, in that they see sexual sin in everything?

Well, when we walk in love, our speech is not like this. We don’t use words to tear each other down with obscenities and moronic talk and sexual innuendo. No—we magnify God AND His creation. We build others up. Please note—Paul gives us a serious warning in verse 7. He says that when we see stuff like that going on around us, we’re not to have any part of it. We are to walk the other way. In order to walk in love, we can’t walk in immorality or even toward it. We can’t walk in greed and selfishness. We can’t walk in impure actions and language. We can’t walk in empty, vain, foolish words. To walk in our Abba’s “shoes” means we walk in love…loving relationships and loving speech. Walking in love is the first trait of a God imitator.

II. Here’s a second trait. An imitator of God walks in LIGHT.

Look at verses 8-14 where Paul says, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

I don’t know about you, but cleaning windows is very hard for me—especially when it comes to my car’s windshield. I will use a ton of Windex and paper towels on it. I’ll attack every smudge—and when I’m done, I’ll be absolutely sure that it’s spotless—but the next time I drive I see streaks…spots I’ve missed. I see them when the light hits the windshield just right—usually when I’m driving west into the sunset or east into the sunrise. That bright sunlight exposes every streak, every smudge, every missed spot, and every speck of dirt. This is what happens to our lives when we walk in the light of the Lord. When Jesus saves us, our body becomes the temple of His Holy Spirit…and in John 16:8, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit’s job was to reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.

So when the Holy Spirit takes up residency inside us He does exactly that. He shines His light of righteousness around in our lives and exposes our sin. He shows us our sinful attitudes and actions—things we could not see before—when we tried to “clean our own windshields” so to speak. God’s Spirit helps us to see times we think we are being selfless—when it reality we are being prideful and self-centered because we want to get praise for doing these “selfless” things.

He shines that light around and exposes hidden sin. He helps us to see the HINTS of sexual immorality and greed that we embrace. He doesn’t do this to condemn us. But rather so we can repent of that sin and learn to become more like Jesus. He does it to help us do a better job of imitating God.

And—what’s more, when we let the Holy Spirit do His work—when we begin to turn from sin—that kind of change becomes EVIDENT in our lives. To use Paul’s metaphor—it bears fruit.

So—if you are bearing the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth in your life, you’re imitating God as you should. You’re walking in His light! You see, in the same way that sunlight causes crops to grow—walking in the light of God’s Holy Spirit produces the fruit of Godliness in us. But the reverse is true. If we don’t walk in the Light…our lives will have a “rotten” harvest…in that the only “fruit” we bear will be UNGodly. Look at how Paul describes that kind of fruit. He calls it, “works of darkness.” He’s saying when we ignore the Holy Spirit….if we don’t walk in the light, we’ll embrace evil attitudes and actions.

As I’ve told you before, when I was in High School and College I worked as a night auditor at Holiday Inn. My shift was from 11PM to 7AM…and I can tell you by experience…that much of the bad that happens in this world…happens after the sun goes down. It’s as if people think their sin won’t be seen in the darkness of night. I could tell you some wild stories of who came into that motel lobby after midnight. I mean, this is when the robberies would usually happen. This is when the drunks would usually stumble in. And—this is when people would come in to get a motel room with someone who wasn’t their spouse.

I was very naive back then and I remember the first time this particular thing happened on my shift. I was a senior in high school at the time. I’m not sure how I figured it out—but a guy registered and after he went to his room I realized the woman that was with him was not his wife.

I think we required ID from all guests at that time of night and after he took his key and went to the room I put two and two together and figured out what was going on. So, I called him up on the phone in his room and confronted him with his sin. I told him it was wrong for him to be sleeping with another woman. I told him that we didn’t allow that kind of sinful behavior in our hotel…and I insisted he pack up and return the room key and then leave our establishment. Well—it was as if a spotlight had been shown on his sin—it was like cockroaches that run when you flip on the light switch—because he did just what I asked. He didn’t yell at me and tell me to mind my own business. He didn’t threaten to complain to my manager or call his lawyer. He just brought me back his key and apologized and then guiltily “slunk” out the door. His reaction makes me wonder if he was a Christian who had back-slidden and knew better. He’d not been walking in the light—and the “fruit” of his behavior proved it.

Now, times have changed because if a desk clerk did what I did today and his boss found out, he’d probably be fired—but it worked for me back then. I share this story—not just to show what happens when we don’t walk in the light—but also because part of walking in the light is exposing sin as sin. That’s what light does. Part of walking in our Heavenly Father’s footsteps involves having nothing to do with sin—and also lovingly exposing sin when given the opportunity to do so….not in a judging way but a lovingly compassionate way. In fact, the only LOVING thing to do is to warn people when they are doing something that will hurt them. We need to ask God to help us know how best to do this—how to graciously, lovingly be ethical light in our office…and in our classroom…and even in the church.

So—to review—Paul says we imitate God by walking in love…by walking in light…

III. Finally he says that an imitator of God walks in WISDOM.

Look at verses 15 and 16. Paul says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

This week I read of actual crimes committed by criminals who weren’t thinking very wisely. To be clear—ANYONE who steals doesn’t have both oars in the water but these guys showed it! For example, in Kentucky, two men tried to pull of the front of a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. The front panel of the ATM was so secure that instead they pulled off the bumper of their truck. Scared, they fled the scene and drove home, leaving the chain attached to the ATM…with their bumper still attached to the chain…with their vehicle’s license plate still attached to the bumper.

One more—in San Francisco a man walked into a downtown Bank of America took a deposit slip and wrote, “This is a stickup. Put all your MANY in this bag.” While standing in line waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So, he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to the Wells Fargo bank. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note toe the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and guessed from his spelling errors that he was not the brightest bank robber in the world. So she told him that she could not accept his stickup notes because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip. She said he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to the Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said “OKAY” and left the Wells Fargo Bank. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police and they arrested the man a few minutes later as he was waiting in line back at the Bank of America.

Well these thieves aren’t the only people who embrace foolish behavior. Paul was writing to Christians who apparently did foolish things as well—and he challenged them to stop “walking like that…” and imitate their Heavenly Father by walking in wisdom. The King James version words it like this. It says, “walk CIRCUMSPECTLY…not as unwise but as wise.” Now, “circumspectly” isn’t a word we normally have in our vocabulary so let’s look at it closely. The English word is taken straight from the Latin word, “circum” which means, “round”—like our word, “circumference.” And “spectus” means to look—like our word “spectacles.” So to walk “circumspectly” means to LOOK at what’s going on AROUND us. It means we strive to be aware…in an insightful way. I mean, we’re going to be in the world—but we must not be OF it—and that kind of “circumspect walking” takes wisdom. It means we have our eyes open to what’s going on in our world and our ears tuned in to the Spirit of God Who lives in us. Walking circumspectly—walking in wisdom is living in obedience to the light of God’s Spirit. It’s living according to the standard set in Scripture. Anything else is foolish.

But there’s more to it than that. As Paul says, walking in wisdom involves being aware that our TIME here on earth is limited.

Charles Swindoll illustrates this principle by challenging us to play a game. He says,

Let’s pretend that your banker phoned you late Friday night and said he had some very good news.

He told you that an anonymous donor who loves you very much has decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your account each morning, starting Monday morning. That’s $864 a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. He adds, ‘But there’s one stipulation. You must spend all that money the same day. No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use.’ With a big smile, you thank your banker and hang up. Over that weekend you have time to plan. You grab a pencil and start figuring; $864 times seven equals over $6,000 a week…times 52…that’s almost $315,000 a year that you have available to you if you work hard to spend it all each day. Remember, whatever you don’t spend is forfeited.

Swindoll continues:

So much for ‘Let’s Pretend.’ Now let’s play, ‘Let’s Get Serious!’ Every morning Someone Who loves you very much deposits into your bank of time 86,400 seconds of time…which represents 1440 minutes…which of course equals 24 hours each day. Now you’ve got to remember the same stipulation applies, because God gives you this amount of time for you to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 26-hour day….though some of us wish there were. From today’s dawn until tomorrow’s dawn, you have a precisely determined amount of time. As someone has put it, ‘Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you want to, but you can spend it only once.

Swindoll is right. God gives each of us 86,400 seconds each day. The ONLY WISE way to use that time is to live for Him by investing those seconds in attitudes and actions of eternal significance….things that further God’s kingdom. When we walk in wisdom like this—living according to God’s leading—we REDEEM our moments and days. We redeem the time God gives us by using it for His glory. We redeem it when we love others…when we serve others in His name…when we thank Him and praise Him for His great faithfulness…when we share the Gospel message with people. We WASTE these precious hours and days when we invest it in trivial things—hurtful things—things that tear down instead of build up….we waste it by letting anyone or anything or anyone but God’s Spirit control us.

By the way, a day is coming when we will have to give an accounting for how we used our days.

How awful it will be to stand before Jesus and explain to Him all the ways we wasted the time He gave us…all the opportunities we missed because we weren’t walking in wisdom…or because we weren’t walking in light…because we weren’t walking in love.


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