We cannot escape being an example to other people; our only choice is what kind of example will we be?
The Bible is full of exhortations for Christians to become mature in Christ and live as a good example for others to imitate.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Mature Christians are people who model Christ-likeness to others so that their example influences others to live in positive ways that honour and glorify God.
But becoming mature in Christ takes time and [God’s] patience as the Holy Spirit continues His ongoing process of sanctification in our own lives.
English clergyman Thomas Fuller once reflected this thinking when he wrote ‘A good example is the best sermon’. Every believer’s life is to become a source of motivation and direction for others. We are to be a picture of reality, a proof that Jesus Christ saves and changes lives so that we can become a powerful magnet that draws others to Christ.
As we age, we hope and expect that God’s work to transform our hearts and minds to reflect His will is evident in the way that we live.
But so that we don’t become self-satisfied with our progress, the Apostle Paul helpfully reminds us that we ought not to consider ourselves as having yet attained perfection (Philippians 3:12).
Though we press on toward attaining the goal of eternal life in heaven with Jesus, Paul is clear that in our earthly lives we have a responsibility to be living examples of God’s sanctifying work for others to follow.
As we practice godly living and encourage others to imitate our lifestyles, the Bible assures us the outcome we enjoy is close relationship with the God of peace Himself (Philippians 4:9).
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends (Philippians 4:1).