Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
Have you ever been impacted by the life and conduct of a mature Christian? Living according to the Bible does not go unnoticed. When we see someone following the example of Christ, it makes a lasting impression on us. As Christians, our ultimate goal is to be more like Jesus.
Recently, as I was pondering the many godly examples I have seen in my life, I couldn't help but think about my brother, Dennis. Although he was five years older than me, we had a close relationship. When he became a Christian as a teenager I quickly took notice of the changes in him. My most vivid memory was his hunger for God's Word and the habit he developed of waking up before sunrise to read it. Although I didn't understand these changes, I observed his faithfulness day after day.
Years later, as a young adult, I went to work at an insurance company and suddenly found myself surrounded by committed Christians. Gradually, I became best friends with a young woman, Lisa. Lisa modeled a godly life and talked to me about God. She devoted hours of her time explaining the Christian faith to me in a way that was clear to understand. One night we were sitting in her car and she read me Bible verses and told me how much God loved me. I thought intently about what she said. The next morning I called her to tell her I invited Jesus into my life to be my Savior. She was very pleased to hear it.
Beginning this new life of faith was exciting, but also complex. I was seriously involved in a relationship with my boyfriend (now husband). There was a lot of compromising at that time in my life and not a lot of spiritual growth. I soon found myself pregnant and frightened. Feelings of shame and failure were overwhelming. Even though I had support and love from my family, I was heartbroken because I knew I had disappointed God and everyone I loved.
For four months I struggled with this, not knowing how to talk to God about it. Talking one night with my sister-in-law, Nancy, I mentioned to her how I was feeling. Lovingly, she told me how God still loved me and will forgive me. She tenderly held my hand and prayed for me. Her kindness was an encouragement to me and I was actually able to look forward to my future.
God uses the examples of others to shape and mold us into the people He wants us to be. I have learned a lot from others. My brother's example of spending time in God's Word has taught me how to developed this same discipline in my own life. My friend's kindness in answering all my questions about Christianity has taught me how to share my faith with a patient, loving attitude. Praying for the encouragement of others is a regular part of my life today because my sister-in-law cared enough to pray with me when I was hurting.
Living according to the Bible and following godly examples can make our lives shine in a dark world (Matthew 5:13-14). When we put into practice what we learn people will notice and it will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way (Titus 2:10).
Lord, thank you for your Word that shows me how to live like Jesus. Thank you for the godly examples of mature Christians in my life. Help me to put into practice those things you teach me. I pray that I would be a godly example to those around me and that they would be drawn to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
April 20, 2008