“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”
“Brethren, join in following my example”
Dynamic spiritual growth, to some, is merely a fanciful ideal. They wonder if real people live vital lives like this. “Are there any real people out there who put flesh and blood on this kind of life?” Paul here gave himself as an example.
Paul never presented himself as some super-saint who lived above ordinary people. In this verse, Paul expected other ordinary people like him to follow in his tracks.
The word “following” in the Greek is the term from which we get “mimic” in the English. Paul said, “If you want to grow, mimic me.” This word means more than mimic; it means to be a “joint mimic.” Join others in imitating Paul. Could you honestly tell another believer to mimic the growth in your life? Paul was an outstanding exponent of the development of God’s grace in a man’s life.
Paul began as a murderer of Christians. He became the author of over one half of the New Testament. This protagonist went from the most feared antagonist of Christianity to its greatest proponent. From perpetrating “havoc” on the church, he advanced to be the greatest advocate of Christianity.
Paul presented himself as a living example of dynamic growth: “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (I Cor. 4:15,16). Later in the same epistle, he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (11:1). Paul did not say imitate me in every respect. He said, “Imitate me to the degree I imitate Christ. So far as I reflect Christ in my life, follow me.”
Everyone influences someone.
Because everyone influences someone, this puts us in a precarious place. We need to watch our step. Our children are watching us. They follow our footsteps. They listen to us when we disagree. They notice when their parents have “roast preacher” for supper. They observe when you criticize the music. They have such big ears when you pass gossip as truth. They will adopt your critical spirit. If you are bitter, they will become bitter. If you are censorious of other Christians, they will pick up the habit. If you criticize the church, they may not go when they are older. You say little good about the church, so they assume little worth in church. They will be just like you are. They throw a ball like their father, and they will criticize like their father.
What kind of example are you setting for your children? Do your children see growth in your spiritual life? They watch you like a hawk. They have big ears. What are you indirectly teaching them? They are trying to discern whether you are all mouth. They ask, “Are my parents for real?”