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. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:17-19 ESV)
When my wife and I were engaged and we knew we had about a year before we were going to get married we started making a list of couples we wanted to have dinner with and get to know. We picked a variety of couples to intentionally have influence in our lives. There was something in each couples marriage that we admired and wanted to have in our own marriage.
We also knew that the best way to learn from these couple was to be close to them, see them interact and even mimic what they did until it stuck in our own marriage. In essence, we realized that some things are better caught, than taught.
So we sat down with the couple that had raised their kids and had grand-kids, the couple that was doing an amazing job of raising teenagers and the newly wed couple that was just ahead of us in their life and routine. We asked great questions. We learned a lot and we formed some tremendous friendships.
Because of that intentional time when we were engaged we do some things in our marriage now (almost eleven years later) that we learned from those couples. When we run into a snag or we have a question about balancing school schedules and making sure we’re in the word daily… we have someone to call who knows us and wants to help.
What my wife and I did for marriage is what Paul tells the believers at the church in Philippi to do about the every day Christian life. Find someone who is following Christ well and copy them. He lays himself out as an example. He invites them to imitate him, not because he is conceited, but so they will have an idea about what it’s like to do some of the things they have not ever done. It’s one thing to hear a lesson on how you ought to pray, it’s another thing to see and hear someone pray. We all need examples to imitate.
Paul is also careful to note that not everyone is worth imitating. Some people talk about Jesus but live lives that do not reflect him. Ultimately their minds are set on earthly things. There are many people who are false teachers who will make up things and twist the scriptures. They worship a false god because their real god isn’t Jesus, it’s their pride, prosperity or popularity. Jesus is just a means to an end for them. We aren’t supposed to copy example of those sort of people.
What about you? Who do you imitate? Who have you learned the most from about how to live the Christian life?
Where do you need to grow? (example: “I need to get better at prayer,” or “sharing my faith,” etc.)
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Who can you imitate and get to know that seems to excel in these areas?