Follow a Worthy Example

Follow a Worthy Example

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
–Philippians 3:17

How do you live successfully in two worlds? The apostle Paul said to live obediently in this world and to be focused on the next world, we need to follow a worthy example. In Philippians 3:17, Paul said, “Brethren, join in following my example.” The word “example” comes from the Greek word from which we get “mimic.” A mimic impersonates another person. He tries to act like another person. Paul was saying, “If you want to live successfully as a Christian, then mimic me.” He said something similar in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

Now, before you write Paul off as being prideful, remember that he already told us in Philippians 2:5 that we need to follow Jesus Christ: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Also, in Philippians 3:12, Paul confessed he was not there yet in his own spiritual life: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect.” Finally, notice that Paul said, don’t follow only me, but also “observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (v. 17). Paul was saying, “Don’t just look at me to know how to live in two worlds successfully; look at other people who are doing it well. Look at Timothy. Look at Epaphroditus. Look at other Christians who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”

The word translated “pattern” is a Greek word that referred to striking a metal coin. in Paul’s day, if you wanted to make a coin, you would take a sheet of metal and strike it with an image, or pattern, of the emperor or whatever image was on that coin. Paul was saying, in the same way, if you want to learn how to live in this world while staying focused on heaven, you need to follow people who have patterned their lives after Christ. Look at people who have the image of Christ stamped upon them. You see, Paul was a master teacher. He understood that the way we learn best is not just through hearing, but it’s through observing. Educational experts say that we tend to retain about 10 percent of what we hear but 80 percent of what we see. Now, hearing is very important, because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). But Paul said, “If you are really going to learn how to live as a Christian, you can’t just learn by hearing–you also need to follow an example. You need a Christian mentor to follow.”

I want to encourage you, when you find somebody like that who mimics the qualities of Christ you desire, get to know that person. Offer to buy their lunch. Sit down, pick their brains, and learn what you can from them. The way we learn to live the Christian life, the way to live successfully in two worlds, is by following worthy examples.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Between Two Worlds” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.