A Life Worth Imitating

Posted on May 25, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1

The Apostle Paul offers what appears to be a rather arrogant exhortation to his readers when he advised them to imitate him and, if they did so, they would be imitators of Christ. We tend to be more aware of our own flaws and failings rather than presuming to have attained a level of obedience and holiness worth emulating by others. But are we conscious of what kind of model and example we are to others.

The level of our devotion and nature of our Christian walk is more by imitation than learning. We see someone living a godly life who exhibits patience, shows compassion, is unflappable in times of adversity or disappointment and consistently reflects the joy of the Lord; they are a model of what we want to become as we aspire to be like them.

Paul reflects on the gospel coming to Thessalonica, and he observes, “The gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5). As a result, these believers became an effective, spontaneous witness through which the gospel spread throughout the region. He reflects on how they became these kinds of believers and witnesses–”And you became imitators of us and of the Lord” (verse 6).

They were not just striving to follow the new religious teaching Paul had introduced, but in an authentic conversion experience were following his example of conviction and living out the power of the Holy Spirit; that is what they had seen in his life. What if we said to a struggling friend or new believer, “If you will just observe my life; do what I do, talk like I talk, adopt my attitudes and behavior, the result will be Christlikeness!”

That may be somewhat presumptive and rather atrocious, but have we not been called to follow Jesus in character and deed. Isn’t “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). We are told in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” A life worth imitating is a life that is imitating Jesus.

All of us are examples of one kind or another. What does our family, our co-workers or fellow church members see in us? Do we impress them as someone they want to be like? If they were like us in lifestyle, attitudes, relationships and spiritual disciplines, would they be growing in their faith and living a more victorious life?

Paul noted this is the unique role of a father, and he considered himself a spiritual father of those who had come to faith through his witness. He said, “You can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers…therefore, I urge you to be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:15-16). We can do a lot of teaching, and have all had many instructors in our Christian life, but effective growth in Christ is having someone like a father to imitate.

When the religious leaders were amazed at the boldness and power of Peter and John, and that they were uneducated and untrained they observed that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Education is profitable, and we need all the training we can get, but the effective Christian life is one that reflects we have been with Jesus. Are we modeling a relationship with Jesus that is worthy of imitating?

One Comment on “A Life Worth Imitating”

  1. Johnny Widener

    What a great truth! Thank you for sharing this Biblical principle! As we often hear, “Actions speak louder than words!” It is sad that many churches think discipleship simply involves inviting lost people to church, getting them saved and into a Sunday School class. That is good, but it is incomplete. Every believer needs his spiritual father to model and mentor them to Christlikeness.

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