Christian practice and ethics are rooted in the character of God. We are created in his image, in his likeness, and we should strive to imitate his character. His supreme character and goodness provides the perfect target for our behavior. As we grow into his character and the likeness of his Son, we grow in greater intimacy and relationship with him. Several passages reveal this teaching.
44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy (Lev. 11:44-45).
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).
There are many qualities or characteristics of God that could be considered for our imitation, but one of the more surprising elements is his tender care. God is All-Powerful. When he speaks, the universe trembles at his word. He has the power and the authority to command all things. Yet, he does not use his power as a means to abuse or take advantage of others. He is concerned with more than himself. He reaches out to the helpless and has a heart for the weak. Power is not his goal but the means for helping those who cannot help themselves. With that in mind, I love the picture presented in Psalm 113.
1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD! 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! 5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
The first six verses rightly praise him for his greatness and grandeur. He is high above the world, and no one is comparable to him. If you considered the collective qualities of a whole group of people, they would not match the greatness of God. As I read the passage, I try to let the depth of those first six verses sink in!
Verse 7 picks up the theme of elevation. God is not only concerned with those humans who are wealthy, prominent and popular. He looks down (from up above) on the poor and the weak. He elevates them to the status of princes. When this was written, there was no greater shame than to be barren. God provides joy to the barren woman.
The Psalm appropriately ends with the words “Praise the Lord!” In light of the greatness of our God, praise is the appropriate response. But when we consider his character and how he exceeds our expectations of one in power, we stand in awe of him. To an even greater degree, praise should be uttered forth in puzzled appreciation. How could our God be so good! And oh how much our lives should be devoted to imbibing his character!