Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Seven times—in 1 Cor. 4:16 & 11:1, Phil. 3:17, 2 Thess. 3:7, 1 Tim. 4:12, Titus 2:7 and 1 Pet. 5:3—we’re told to follow the example of others who are following Christ’s (imperfect as they may be).
It seems that the Holy Spirit was pretty emphatic on this point when inspiring the Scriptures.
The example of others is a critical part of our growth as Christians.
Of course, this also means that as we follow the example of others, we must be an example worth following.
I guess, then, the question for me becomes:
How am I doing with that?
Is my faith worth imitating? Am I an example that should be followed?
Every few weeks, I try to take an opportunity to read through the qualifications of elders (overseers) and deacons in 1 Tim 3:2-10:
[A]n overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
Looking at this list, I think we’re meant, at least to a certain extent, to see the character a mature, Christian man.
He should be a man of integrity. Thoughtful in speech and action. Even-tempered. If he is married, a good husband and father. A good steward of the money God has entrusted to him. Confident in his knowledge of Christ. A servant who uses his gifts, and opens his home & life to others so they might benefit. And, he must be pursuing humility.
Last week, my friends and I were talking about this list of character qualifications… and while there’s a few that I’m on a good trajectory with, there’s others on which I’ve got a long way to go. That last one, humility, in particular.
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you,” Paul wrote in Col. 3:5. I want to see those persistent sins put to death, once and for all.
I don’t want those to be the things that people imitate as they follow my example.
Instead of a legacy of hubris, I’d rather have one marked by humility.
Because that’s a faith worth imitating.