Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-19
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:17,18)
We all have people we admire, people we want to be like. They become our role models. We need role models, but we must be careful that we choose the right ones, those who will encourage us in our spiritual development and not hinder us.
Paul was a role model to the Philippians. He said to them, “Brothers, join in imitating me.” He did not say this in some prideful way. He had a realistic view of himself and he wasn’t afraid to tell others about it. He knew he was a sinner saved by grace. He admitted his failures but quickly reminded people about God’s grace. Remember some of the things he said about himself — “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (I Timothy 1:15). On another occasion he called himself “the least of all the apostles” (I Corinthians 15:9). This was not some kind of false humility; he really believed these things about himself. Yet, he knew that Jesus loved him and died for him.
Paul understood that the gospel both humbles us on the one hand but gives us great value on the other hand. He knew that he was loved and accepted by God because of Jesus’ work on his behalf. Therefore, Paul lived out his brokenness and was able to grant grace to others. This is gospel living. We need role models who are living out the gospel.
Unfortunately many people have chosen the wrong role models — those that don’t reflect the character and teachings of Jesus. We must be careful to choose the kind of people we want to be like. We need role models like Paul who lived out his faith before others.
One other thought is worth mentioning. We need to be careful that we are good role models ourselves. What kind of example are we setting? Can we say with Paul, “Join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us?”
Lord Jesus, I am so thankful for the role models that I have had over the years. You have always given me men that I respect, men that I want to imitate. I pray that I will be a good role model to my children, grandchildren and others. Enable me to live out the gospel before them in such a way that I can say to them, “join in imitating me.”
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