“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”
In the first phrase Paul gave himself as an example to follow. Here he encouraged the Philippians to follow those who followed Paul’s example.
“and note those who so walk”
The word “note” is a military word meaning to reconnoiter, to look, watch or mark. Paul challenged the Philippians to reconnoiter the array of Christians in their purview to detect growing Christians.
Paul was not the only person to follow. There were others: “Keep your eye on dynamic, growing Christians.” In another passage Paul challenged the Thessalonians to follow not only him but others:
“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thess. 1:6)
Mature believers live life with a capital “L.” They extend their Christian lives far beyond existence from one Sunday service to another. Christianity to them is more than religion. It is beyond putting on a Sunday garment. The Thessalonians followed Paul and his companions by receiving “the word in much affliction.” Paul said, “If you follow me, you might go to jail as well.” Some answer, “Oh, I did not figure on that!” The Christian life might cost us something. It is not an easy life. It is blessed but not easy.
The Thessalonians looked upon Paul and his associates as the best Christians they knew. You are the best Christian some people know. You may be the only Christian some people know. People in your sphere of influence judge all Christians by you. They have never met a better Christian than you, so they figure every other Christian is worse than you.
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” (Heb. 13:7)
Like it or not, right or wrong, people look at the conduct of a leader more scrupulously than at the actions of a Christian in general. They expect things of leaders they cannot provide in their own strength.
“as you have us for a pattern”
In effect, Paul was saying, “Philippians, do you want an example of how to imitate Christ? Follow our team. The character of Christ blooms in us.”
The word “pattern” means to strike by a blow. It is the impression left after the blow. It is that which forms a pattern after a thing in made. The word comes to mean “example.”
Examples are hard to come by in our day. Some Christian leaders assault the idea of a pattern or example in our day. They so forfeit their credibility that it affects the credibility of all Christian leaders. This undermines spiritual authority in Christianity. It attacks the credibility of Christianity itself.
It is our responsibility to sort out the growing, dynamic Christians from the dead and dull Christians.
We are to associate with growing Christians. Do you mark out others in your purview who are growing Christians? Do you imitate weak Christians? Baby Christians? “Well, everyone in our group is indifferent to spiritual things.” Then find someone who is alive spiritually. In the spiritual sphere the crowd is usually wrong.
Are you making a contribution to the credibility of Christianity?