Living the Example

I’m not a huge fan of board games (except maybe for Monopoly). To me, most board games are more like “bored” games and nothing is more frustrating to me than to have someone pull out the rule book and start reading it before we can start playing. Usually about an eighth into the first paragraph (maybe sentence) I’m saying: “Wait! Wait! Wait! How about we just start playing and you can show us the rules as we go?” Because, I don’t know about you, but for me there are just some things I learn better with examples than with just explanations. The Bible is full of examples of God’s Word in action because God understands that as humans, we just learn better when we can see how something is supposed to work.

Paul understood that about the people he discipled. Remember, most of the people he ministered to were not Jews. They were not trained up from childhood in the ways of God. Most came from pagan backgrounds and they were surrounded by examples of paganism. They did not see many examples of the Christian walk. So, it’s not surprising to see Paul write:

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

Or…

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

On the surface, statements like that sound a little arrogant. “Really, Paul? I’m supposed to follow you like you’re some great example?” Yes. Reading statements like Paul’s words to the Philippians and the Corinthians should not offend us. They should challenge us. I said before that the verses in Philippians 4:4-9 all had the abiding presence of God as their common theme. Verse 9 is not an exception to this because many times, God shows us His abiding presence through His people, and God gave the Philippians the apostle Paul as their living example of godliness.

When we raise the banner of Christianity over our lives, we are setting ourselves up as examples whether we mean to or not, and whether we realize it or not, people are looking at us to see what Christianity is supposed to look like. If we are careless in our walk, we do damage to the cause of Christ. We don’t have the luxury of saying: “Oh, well, I’m not the best example.” For some, we are the only example. Paul told his readers, “You follow my example and ‘the God of peace shall be with you.’”

So, the challenge to us is clear: What kind of example are we?

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Photo by Glenn Haertlein on Unsplash

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