When our children were young, one of their favorite ways to bother a sister or brother was to copy what that sibling said. Before long, “Mom, she’s copying me!” would echo at least twice through our house as the copied child grew tired of the “game” that was being enjoyed by the other sibling. Copying the brother or sister took little effort on the part of the sibling. It simply required repeating what the other one said, matching tone and volume.
Romans 12:2 begins with “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world” (NLT). Much like my children’s copying game, to copy the behavior and customs of this world takes little thought or effort for me. I just act out what I observe or what comes easily or naturally to me. For example, judging others by appearance alone is one of the world’s customs that I’m quick to copy.
The rest of Romans 12:2 encourages me instead to let God transform my thinking so that I can learn God’s will. What does it take to transform my thinking? If God must do the transforming, then the process must be something that I cannot do for myself. And without God’s work of transforming my thinking, will I be able to learn God’s will and act on it?
Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2, that we are to imitate God in everything we do. I wonder if the only way to imitate or follow God’s example is through a transformed mind that doesn’t just copy outward behavior. If my thinking is transformed to the mind of Christ, I can thus learn and then act on what God wants me to do. To learn and act as God would want takes much more effort than simply copying a behavior. I must have a new way of looking at life and practice acting out of that new perspective.
Much as my children have—at least I hope—outgrown their copying game, I pray that I will outgrow the habit of doing what comes easily to my human nature. As I submit to God’s transforming of my mind, I hope to learn how to imitate and follow Christ’s example of a life filled with sacrificial love.