Wednesday, January 14, 2015
January 14 – Learn to imitate
Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9 HCSB)
A friend told me that Philippians 4 had always been his favorite chapter, except for this verse. “How arrogant of Paul to tell people to follow him. Who does he think he is?” he would ask.
But all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, even those verses that puzzle us. Paul’s command carries a promise with it as well. There are at least two other passages where Paul says, “imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16, and 11:1). The entire Bible is emphatic that no one but God should be glorified, so Paul was obviously not demanding honor and glory. But Jesus did say that we are to be lights and salt in this world, a city on a hill for all to see so that our lives can point others to God. There is much to be said about godly men and women who we look to as role models and examples for us to pattern our lives after.
When I’m around spiritual men who’ve lived through struggles and overcame them by faith, I learn a lot through their testimonies, and even more by just observing their lives. God’s Word is our foundation, but there are specific circumstances where we need a role model who is full of the Holy Spirit and all of His fruit to show us how to navigate through our lives. Their decisions and reactions to daily challenges are priceless opportunities to glean wisdom for ourselves. If they are godly, everything they do will be in sync with God’s Word. And even when they make mistakes, the manner in which they humbly own up to them, ask forgiveness and get back on track are great teaching tools for us to use as well.
One image that’s indelibly etched into my memory is from years ago watching Bishop Macedo got off the phone with bad news. He immediately smiled, laughed and gave me a slap on the back. “The devil is angry with us! That’s great David! That means that we’ll overcome in Jesus’ name!” It was a confusing sight. I was a brand new pastor, and I was trying to process why he was acting so excited about bad news. I knew the Bible verses about rejoicing in trials, but watching him that day brought the Word of God to life. It became practical and real through that unforgettable example. Bishop Macedo has flaws like me, but as I watch and learn from a man who imitates Jesus, my faith has become deeper and more effective as years go by. By the way, that problem on the phone did get resolved miraculously.
But this doesn’t just go for church leaders – this should be something that we all should strive for. It’s only right that every child of God become an example to lead others to find the Kingdom of God. And the best way to do that is to have the humility to imitate others, even though no role model will ever be perfect. God will show you who to imitate so He can reveal more of Himself to you. And the God of peace with be with you.