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. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
I experienced a common struggle when I first came to Christ. The Bible in many ways seemed more theoretical than practical. I understood the rules I was being given, and I felt that I really derived value from the teachings presented to me. However, I could not always find a concrete way of living out that which I was taught. If someone told me that I should stop working in my own strength and start working in God’s strength, I would expect them to give me step-by-step instructions on how exactly to achieve that. I needed practicality, and that required my being able to mirror how someone else lived the Christian life. I needed solid godly examples to not only explain my Christian duty but also show me how to walk it out.
The idea that we are to mimic those who are godly carries three components. First, we must be intentional about seeking out those who can help us grow in our faith. One of our regular missions should be finding people to imitate because they show us more than what we know. Second, we must have the knowledge and wisdom to know who is living in a godly manner. We must test their fruit to be certain that we are not being deceived. Third, we must be vigilant to make sure that we also are godly examples for others to follow. Just as there will be some who can lead us in our spiritual growth, there also will be those who can be led by us. The call for us to be imitators of the godly is a call for us not only to be followers but also to be leaders. We must seek God for opportunities to fill both roles.
Paul called on the church to imitate him but only because he was an imitator of Christ [1Cor. 11:1]. That is our measuring rod here. We want to seek those who are Christ-like, who can help us increase our knowledge and wisdom as well as our application of them. We also want to make sure that we are Christ-like because others will look to us for the same direction and instruction even if we are unaware of it. It is integral to the prosperity of the Church that we recognize our responsibility in this chain of influence to which we have been called. Father, give us godly examples who we can follow through this world, and make us godly people who are equipped to lead others just the same.