Are you a child of God? According to the Apostle John, anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Saviour, by believing in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sin, is a child of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Have you ever heard the saying, “the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree?” How about, “Like parent, like child?” We interpret those sayings as referring to a child’s behavioral resemblance of the parent. In most cases it is a positive assessment. There are exceptions to the rule, but when we observe the personality of a child we can see traits in the child that resemble the mother or father.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to become just like His Son. As a matter of fact, Romans 8:29 says an extremely out of this world promise concerning God’s plan for His children, “He (has) predestined (us) to become conformed to the image of His Son”. In Philippians 1:6, Paul adds these words concerning God’s work in us, “[For I am] confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” In other words, it is going to happen! One day, and for eternity, we will be like Jesus, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
So what does it mean to be conformed into the image of God’s Son, to be like Him? It doesn’t mean that we are all supposed to look like a Jewish man in his thirties with scars on our hands and in our side. It means that the Father is doing a work in our hearts to make us look like Jesus in our character, in our actions, in our speech and in our thoughts. After all, “the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.” We were born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3), “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Having been born again, Christ is in us, ”I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
To totally be like Christ is an impossibility this side of Heaven. When we reach our final destination we will be like Christ, but meanwhile, there is a work going on in our lives by the Triune God. Amazing! He is working on all aspects of our lives and He wants us to be cooperative in the process. That’s what it means to walk in the Spirit, to be obedient to His Word, to be a living sacrifice, to take up our cross by dying to self.
There are many attributes of God that are communicable, that is, able to be transmitted to us through His working in us. One of them is the attribute of being a “giver”. God is the greatest giver in the entire universe and throughout all eternity. How do I know that? The Bible tells me so. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. God is love, and He demonstrated His love through action, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There can be no greater gift than to offer His only Son to die in our place.
So, as children of God, one attribute God is working on in each of us is that of being a giver. Ask yourself, do I look like my Father in that aspect of my life? Am I growing in that aspect? Do I really want to? How can I be more like my Father in being a giver?
Let me tell you that there is inexpressible joy in being a giver. When Evelyn and I were planning on getting married, we were 19 and 20 years old, and one of Evelyn’s aunts asked us if we were going to tithe as a couple. Our answer was simple, I was going to go to college full time and Evelyn was going to provide the income to live, so “we would not be able to afford to tithe”. The wise aunt replied, “You cannot afford not to tithe!” We took that advice and since then, 52 years later, we have never ceased to give at least 10% to our church and additional money to missionaries and individuals in need. Even when I was unemployed, several times, we continued to give the same amount we had been giving when I was unemployed and even when there was no income at all. We took it out of savings. God has never, ever left us in a position of need, though we did not always have what we wanted. Sometimes we wondered if and when and how He would provide, and He always did provide. We did not ever feel deprived. We received many anonymous unsolicited gifts just when we needed them. God is a giver and He is making us more like Him. Won’t you consider letting Him freely work in you in becoming a giver if you are not already?
Bill Olsen, Elder