Buried in the minor prophets of the Old Testament is a prophecy that I believe came true in you and me. Looking ahead through the centuries, God said through the prophet Zephaniah, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph 3:17).
Is there a day coming when God will take great delight in you and rejoice over you with singing? If you have believed and embraced God’s message of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, that day of singing over you is today. That day of delighting in you is now.
One place this prophecy is fulfilled, among many other places, is in a short verse in Ephesians in the New Testament. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1). The fulfillment is wrapped up in three words – “as beloved children” – and there is so much depth of meaning in that phrase.
All of us have a father. It is a fact of being human. I had the joy of having a good father. But I know that is not always the case. Having a father and having a father who calls us beloved (and treats us that way) is not always the same thing. Many in our circle have been hurt by fathers who were heavy on the rebuke and shame and light on the affirmation and love. But no matter your father background, you do have a heavenly father who delights in you.
First, you are God’s child. It is that simple. When you trusted Christ to take away your sins, you were adopted into God’s family. This adoption into the family of God is incredible. But even more incredible is that you are not only God’s child, but you are a beloved child. God loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be broken.
And this takes us back to the first part of Ephesians 5:1, “Be imitators of God.” When you read this command, what is your first thought. For most of us it might sound like, “Well, that’s impossible. Good luck with that.” An imitator of God? Who can reach that high standard?
I contend that you can because of the rest of the verse. Yes, in our own strength, in our own power, in our own effort, it is impossible to live up to imitating God the Father. But look at the rest of the verse. You can move in that direction because you are a beloved child; made able through the blood of Jesus Christ and sealed by His Holy Spirit.
If you had an affirming and loving mom and dad, you wanted to imitate them. You saw something noble in them, even if you did not know what to call it, that made you want to be like them. Their example was something you wanted to follow. As God’s beloved child, we feel the want to. Who would want to disappoint such a loving Father?
But He does not just give us the desire. He gives us the ability to imitate Him by giving us something no earthly father can give a child; himself living inside the child. You father may have set a great example. Your father may have taught you many skills. Your father may have taught you how to carry yourself such that you had a toolbox of how to imitate your father.
But God goes way beyond that. Through Jesus, God is actually living His life in you. And not just living it. He is loving it; to the point of taking “great delight in you and rejoicing over you with singing.” You are a beloved child!