Summary: Being a mature Christian means more than going to church to be educated and entertained - it means growing to the point where you become an example to others.
OPEN: What does it mean to be grown up? A group of 5 to 8 year children were asked that question and these were their answers:
David, age 7, said you know you’re grown up when your clothes don’t fit anymore.
Angie (6) said she believed being a grown up meant being able to ride a bike with no training wheels and having no one running along beside.
Amanda (5) …when you can cross the street by yourself, and run your own bath water.
Ronnie (8) …when you get scared in the night and don’t have to run in to mommy’s room.
Lisa (7) …when you are 30
Sherri (6) …when you stop growing old, go to work, be a mom.
Eric (5) …when you have wrinkles on your face & you look in the mirror and say "Oh No!"
APPLY: I suppose there’s a measure of truth in all of those answers, but as we’ve discovered from Scripture over the past 3 weeks, God has His own idea of what it means to grow up. We’ve learned over these past weeks that an ADULT Christian is one who:
1. Seeks to be like their Father in Heaven (be perfect or mature as your Father in Heaven)
2. Seeks to be a “servant” of others
3. Realizes they are a “priest of God” – one who has a job to do, and does it
4. AND LAST WEEK: Someone who seeks to find someone to teach.
I. THIS WEEK we’re going to examine one last trait of a mature, grown up Christian.
In I Corinthians Paul introduces the idea that being an adult means you give others something to imitate. Reread I Cor. 4:12-17.
In this passage we find that Paul wanted the Corinthians to ‘imitate’ him because he was their father figure. The Greek word Paul uses here is “Mimatan” from which we get our words mimic, or imitate. This word “Mimatan” is repeated several times in Scripture and this is an expression of an important Biblical concept.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul writes: “FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Again in Philippians 4:9 he advises: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— PUT IT INTO PRACTICE. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Peter, in 1 Peter 5:3 tells Elders their job must be to lead “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but BEING EXAMPLES to the flock.”
In case that idea is lost on the rest of the church, God tells them:
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and IMITATE THEIR FAITH.”
Philippians 3:17 Join with others in FOLLOWING MY EXAMPLE, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
So, our objective is to get the point of maturity where we can be examples for others.
II. The most obvious way to become an example is to find a position of responsibility where we can influence others:
* Get involved in Youth Group, Jr. Church or the Nursery
* Teach a Sunday School Class
* Start an in-home Bible Study
One of the projects here at our church that has impressed me for years has been Dave Broad’s “Mentoring” program. As director of our Education Committee, he has chosen several people within the church to work with our teachers in the Sunday School, basically becoming understudies of those who faithfully impart God’s word each Sunday. Paul had told Timothy to do this very thing when he wrote Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
SO, if you’re a teacher, or person with a ministry within the church, you should find someone who you can mentor, someone you can train to do what you do.
III. But, this training of others is more than teaching facts and figures.
While teaching about things like…
1. Who were Peter, James and John?
2. Where is Damascus on the map?
3. What did the Tabernacle look like?
...are valuable and worthwhile, that’s not what Paul stressed in I Corinthians 4.
(vs 12) “We work hard with our own hands.” One of things Paul wanted the Corinthians to imitate was his work ethic.
Similarly, Paul wrote the church in Thessalonica: “We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves A MODEL FOR YOU TO FOLLOW.” II Thess. 3:7-9