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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are You Worthy of Imitation?

1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NIV) You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Paul commends the Thessalonians for imitating those who had brought them the gospel. Paul, Silas and Timothy had lived such an exemplary life among the Thessalonians that the imitation of their lives was also an imitation of the Lord. That significanly differs from those who say, "Do as I say, not as I do!" The Christian should live his life worthy of imitation.

Maybe you have seen evangelists come to your church in big buses or with incredible fanfare and thought secretly, "Its no wonder why they preach the gospel. Just look at the lifestyle it allows them to live!" These evangelists are typically isolated from the people except when preaching. They are wisked away after each meeting. They are kept in lavish hotels, dined at the best restaurants and fitted to the finest clothing. Very few people know how they really live their lives. The only knowledge you have of them is their own testimonies and in these they make themselves heroes even when they confess their sins. They cannot be an example because those who come to the Lord under their preaching do not know them.

These Thessalonian beleivers had welcomed the gospel even though they were going through great suffering. They saw that Paul, Silas and Timothy were not rich evangelists who came into to town, wowed everyone and headed to the next town. Paul set up his tent making business there. He was there long enough to establish this trade. Some have estimated that he was there for two years or more. (Acts 17 makes one believe that he was only there a few weeks but this can't be the case from Paul's own testimony in 1 Thessalonians 2:9) 

There are two ways to get people to think more of you. One is to leave quickly and/or keep yourself so isolated that no one knows your faults. The other is to live in such a way that they appreciate and wish to imitate your behavior. Paul, Silas and Timothy have done this. They have lived closely enough to the Thessalonians that they were able to imitate them. It is clear that Paul wanted these new believers to act this way. It is also clear that he knew that they were watching.

It has been said that the Christian is the only Bible some people will ever read. Many people have welcomed the thought of Christ but rejected the gospel when the observed the actions of Christians. It should be evident to every believer that others are watching. It should be evident that they will probably become imitators of those whom they have observed.

The Christian life should be lived with the desire that others will imitate your life. This is not arrogance. It is placing yourself under the lordship of Jesus Christ so that your boasting will be of Him and how He changed your life.

It is giving God the glory.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

A disciple models after His Master. When his Master is still around, he always point back to the Master. Only his Master is worthy of imitation. He dares NOT draw imitation on himself, the disciple himself struggles to imitate his Master.

When the disciple has learned well, and the Master is no more around, he becomes a replica of the Master for imitation.

But Lord, I struggle to imitate you. Only the babes of babes can imitate me, and let it be so, till I have mastered more, by your grace. Lord, my finger is still pointed to you, none, to me.

In your time and by your grace, may I be able to point my fingers at me and at you.

My Master, humbly yours to shape.