Summary: Role models are a must for Christian growth and development. Nothing could be clearer in Paul’s writings than that he wanted others to do what he did and be like him. Why? Because to the best of his ability, he was like Christ.
How many of you have put together a model car? Let me show you some models.
(power point of a few cars)
What do all of these models have in common? There are lots of things we could mention. Let me share just six things these all have in common:
1. They are all cars. 2. They all are used for transportation. 3. They all have seating capacity. 4. They all have four wheels. 5. They all run on petroleum fuel. 6. They all were designed and built by someone with a clear plan and pattern.
Models are important. Our lives are built around them. What do your kids want for Christmas? Where did they get those ideas? From models around them. We all follow models and are impacted by them. In fact, God uses models more than laws when it comes to teaching us in the Bible. The Bible gives us living people to follow rather than simply instructions.
When we read the book of Philippians we see how God’s word selects four models for us to build ourselves by. Christ Jesus, the ultimate model for life. (2:5-11). Timothy, who demonstrates faithfulness and Christ like care for others. (2:19-24). Epaphroditus, who demonstrates hard work and risking his life for Christ. (2:25-30). Finally there is Paul, who is this week’s model for us to think about and discuss.
I am taking these out of order. We skipped the first and most important model, Christ, and will look at His example next week on Christmas day.
Is your life a model of the Christian life? Would you allow God to build your life into a model Christian by following those He has supplied? Will you let your light shine by being a model Christian for others to follow and even invite them to do so?
2 Peter 1 tells us:
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Peter tells us not only that Jesus Christ is the model but what are the tools and pieces to put together so that this model is complete and working for God’s glory and our security in our lives.
I remember getting a model car for a birthday present when I was about 12. It was a really neat kit with what seemed like literally thousands of tiny parts all molded onto a plastic frame with a tiny stamped number either on the part or if it was too small, right where you broke off the model part from the frame. Do you know what I’m talking about?
(power point image of a model car preassembled)
Instead of reading the directions and taking the time to study where each part was or where it went, I foolishly started snapping off the little pieces from the frame and piling them back into the box. I thought I would know where to glue them with no problem.
As I recall most of the little pieces never made it onto the model. I got the shell together and the doors, roof and wheels glued on and called it finished.
Why does the little book of Philippians spend so much of its content on models for life? What does this tell us about our need for models to build our lives by today?
Like the Philippian Christians and all other Christians we read about in the New Testament, we need mature Christian models to pattern our lives after. We need mentors who show us how to live this life for Christ. Besides Jesus Christ himself, who do you think is mentioned most as a model for us to follow in building a Christian life?
The Apostle Paul wins hands down. He doesn’t just live the life of a Christian, he shares his Christian life with us as an example and model for us to follow. And, not only that, Paul boldly and clearly commands us to follow his example. He doesn’t just suggest that we might imitate a few of the better things we see in his life. Listen to his own words in Philippians: