* These words are closely linked to the verses that have preceded.
* We must never let chapter divisions lead us to think that an entirely new matter is being considered now that we have moved to a new chapter.
* In the last verse of chapter 4, we have a call for us to exercise tenderness to other believers in imitation of God's mercy toward us. That thought is continued and enlarged upon here. The word "therefore" inverse 1 confirms this.
I. THE CHRISTIAN IS AN IMITATOR OF GOD
The word "follower" is a translation of a word (mim-ay-tace) from which we get mimic. We are to mimic or imitate God.
1. We cannot imitate Him in His works of creation and providence but in holiness, compassion and mercy. "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High," Isaiah 14:13-14. This is the devil's ambition. The actions of Christ as revealed in His word are our guide as we seek to obey the duties required of us. Luke 6:35, Col 3:13.
2. We are to seek to imitate Him in motives also. It is heart conformity that is required. "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us," verse 2. It is not enough to produce words but the heart must be conformed, 1 John 3:18.
3. We need no other pattern. Even when good men call upon us to imitate them let it be limited to their conformity to Christ. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ," 1 Cors 11:1. Here is where many make a mistake and become followers of men.
4. This is the whole purpose of God for us. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren," Roms 8:29. "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself," Philippians 3:21.
5. What a motive is here presented to us for holiness of life. Imitation of our Heavenly Father is surely a natural instinct springing from our new birth. Such actions is characteristic of a son. It is the action expected of "dear children." Knowing the favour that has been shown toward us, we will wish to act accordingly toward of God, the fountain of mercy and love.