1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
Verses one and two set forth a challenge to live the Christian life based on forgiveness and characterized by love.
This “therefore” draws an implication from Christ’s forgiveness in the previous verse (4:32).
The word “be” is the Greek word meaning to become. The idea is to become what you were not before. They were not imitators of God, but now they are to become His imitators.
imitators of God
Believers are to imitate God’s forgiveness of us. The Greek word occurs six times (1 Co 4:16; 11:1; 1 Th 1:6; 2:14; He 6:12). He is the pattern for forgiving others. This is the only place in Scripture where the phrase “imitators of God” occurs.
Imitating God does not mean that we can mimic His attributes that cannot be shared with man, such as being everywhere present or all knowing. The idea is to imitate His attributes that He can share, such as love and justice.
as dear [beloved] children.
The reason we should imitate God is that we are His beloved children. Sonship implies the necessity of imitation. This is the character of what it means to be a Christian. God loves His children; we are “dear” to Him (1 Jn 3:1).
Sonship implies imitation.
Small children mimic their parents, both in nature and action. Christians have become God’s children (Jn 1:12; Ga 3:26). He has adopted us as sons (Eph 1:5). Our Father is holy; we are to be holy. God is love; we are to love.
An evidence of love is forgiving others with no strings attached. People may not deserve our forgiveness, but we forgive them anyway. Lack of forgiveness indicates that we operate in a different manner than God. When we hold vengeance toward others, we profane what Christ did on the cross. We want to punish people for doing something Christ already took the punishment for.