Growing Up to Be Like God

Six verses from the Bible that can guide us in imitating our heavenly Father

There’s nothing cuter than watching children try to copy their parents.

Think about it—a tiny skateboarder rolls along the sidewalk, staying upright less so because of natural balance and more because of Dad’s guiding hands. A future baker puts a new spin on Mom’s famous carrot cake by adding too much salt and spilling half of the batter on the floor. A determined plumber in miniature overalls almost gives Dad a concussion by dropping a wrench on his head.

We love watching kids imitate their parents because we know that children are still learning and growing. They can’t skateboard with ease. They shouldn’t bake unsupervised. And they aren’t the people you want to call when your sink gets backed up. But we delight in their efforts and their desire to be like their favorite grown-ups.

The Bible tells us that all believers have that special parent-child relationship with God: “It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26 GNT). Unlike an earthly parent—who does their best to be a good example for their children but can never be perfect—God is a perfect and loving Father, and Scripture encourages us to imitate him: “Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him” (Ephesians 5:1 GNT).


What does it mean to imitate God?

Scripture is clear that we can never be the same as God.

“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,

and my ways are different from yours.

As high as the heavens are above the earth,

so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 GNT

After all, God reveals in his Word the many ways that we are different from him. For example, he is a spirit (John 4:24), eternal (Psalm 90:2), all-powerful (Luke 1:37), all-knowing (1 John 3:20), and present everywhere (Jeremiah 23:24). But he also tells us that he made us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). It is God’s desire that we live in a way that honors him, asking him for wisdom and help when we make mistakes.

By looking deeper into God’s Word, we can find ways to imitate him in our daily lives as he continues the good work he began in us (Philippians 1:6). Here are six verses to guide your heart in reflection and prayer as you seek to become more like your heavenly Father.

God is kind and forgiving.

Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ

Ephesians 4:32 GNT

God loves justice and hates oppression.

The Lord says,

“I love justice and I hate oppression and crime.

I will faithfully reward my people

And make an eternal covenant with them.”

Isaiah 61:8 GNT

God is patient and merciful.

But you, O Lord, are a merciful and loving God,

always patient, always kind and faithful.

Psalm 86:15 GNT

God is generous.

“Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11 GNT

God cares for people who are ignored or abused.

God, who lives in his sacred Temple,

cares for orphans and protects widows.

He gives the lonely a home to live in

and leads prisoners out into happy freedom,

but rebels will have to live in a desolate land.

Psalm 68:5-6 GNT

God helps us in our troubles.

Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 GNT

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Elisabeth Trefsgar
Elisabeth Trefsgar

Elisabeth Trefsgar is a content specialist for American Bible Society. She has made a home in New Jersey and Sofia, Bulgaria, and is always on the lookout for the next adventure. She is passionate about seeing communities around the world flourish through the power of God's Word and the efforts of the local church. When she isn't writing, you can find her reading good stories, photographing local sights, and spending time with friends.

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