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January 11, 2015

Text: “It was not because we do not have that right but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” II Thessalonians 3:9

Paul the apostle understood the great good accomplished by the shining example of living a righteous and pure life. Every life is an example and tells the tale of either a corrupt heart of sin or a life devoted to righteousness and goodness. In his epistles Paul sometimes dictated that Christians follow his own life as an example. Perhaps best known of these urgings is in I Corinthians 11:1. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  Jesus agreed: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” Again, the Lord used  a parable to cite the need of his followers to give the lives to manifest an example. “In the same way, let your life shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven .” Matthew 5:16

There are many methods of choosing an example to follow.  But one of the most used is hero worship. Remember however, do not elevate your heroes to the status of divinity. When I was a child there were lots of persons to emulate:  cowboys like Roy Rogers, Gene  Autrey,  and John Wayne. Political figures such as: Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. And, of course sports figures: Babe Ruth, Doak Walker, Bob Cousy, Sandy Koufax, and Mickey Mantle.  All of these persons had feet of clay. Nevertheless, we can keep their good points of character and discard their faults.

But everyday folks make excellent models to emulate too. Their models are at hand and we may observe them: what they do and what they say. Watch the people you admire. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be like him?”  Make sure what you admire in the example will be advantageous to building better character in yourself, then get busy incorporating the skill or behavior into your  life. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and practical points for building your character. Keep your eyes open to discover other points of behavior you should learn to grow your righteousness. Focus on experienced Christians whose lives can help you build a respected character.

However, the best examples of righteous characters are in the Bible. In the Old Testament we can find many points of pure character in the heroes of the faith. Abraham is frequently praised as a person of faith. (Hebrews 10:11)  Of Joseph there is nothing written of any sins of his life. Of King David it was attested that he was a man after God’s own heart. (I Samuel 13:14)Christ

However, the best example is, of course, Jesus Christ. “For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” I Peter 2:21

No greater model could be offered as holiness, godliness, and character. Jesus commanded that his disciples adopted him, his life, and his teachings. Yes, to undertake to emulate the Savior in his model perfection is impossible. But remember, Jesus did not say we have to be perfect. Nor can we be lax in our best efforts. Whatever level of good morality we achieve in this life his grace will make up for if we are earnest in pursuing his life and teachings.

Continue to rise to the challenge of being like Jesus.

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