Yesterday morning, as I was reading my Bible, I came across this verse: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” This is 1Cor. 11:1. As I read it, I was reminded of another verse, Phil. 4:9. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.” Both of these verses were written by Paul; the first to the believers in Corinth and the latter to the believers in Philippi. Paul is, in essence telling these people to “do what I do”. He was living his life in such a way that he had no problem telling others to follow his example. The reason for this is simple…he was following the example of Jesus. Paul tells the Philippians “WHATEVER you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.” He was following Christ’s example so closely, that he felt confident in telling others to do what they saw him do.
So, as we apply these verses to our lives, what does that look like? Who are the people that are following our example? A sobering thought, isn’t it? Several years ago, the Lord used the verse in Philippians (among other things!) to really convict me and break my heart. I had allowed much anger and bitterness to take root in my heart. (I won’t go into all the details…it’s not very pretty. Another story for another time perhaps!) After many months of living this way, I finally allowed the Lord to slowly remove my heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. As I was going through the healing process, the Lord spoke to me through many verses….Phil. 4:9 being one of them. I sensed the Lord was saying to me, “Look at the example you have been setting for your children. Is that really who/what you want them to be?” I was crushed to realize what I had been doing to my children and the example that I had been setting for them. My children look to me as an example of what a Godly wife and mother should look like, and I was certainly not providing that for them. There was NO way that I could say to them, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.” Instead my instruction to them was more of an unspoken “Do as I say, not as I do”. I certainly didn’t want to tell them, “Whatever you have seen me do or heard me say, that’s what you should do”. But, basically that’s what I was telling them, because we all know the old saying “more is caught than taught”.
I am so thankful that God loves me and is always willing to forgive me and give me a new start. For awhile I lived with much guilt for what I had put my family through, but took comfort in the fact that “there is now no condemnation for those wh0 are in Christ Jesus”.
I am far from perfect and certainly don’t want my children to put into practice EVERYTHING that they learn from me, or that they hear and see me do, but with the Lord’s grace and help, I am closer to that than I used to be! I will continue to get closer as I choose daily to follow Christ as my example.
So, I would encourage you to be very careful about the life you lead. Your children and others are watching. Can you say to them the words that Paul said to the Philippians? “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.”