Summary: A short sermon calling believers to follow the example of Jesus and to therefore be able to say to others, as Paul did: "Follow my example!"
Phil 3:17 – 4:1
There are not many preachers bold enough to begin a sermon by saying, “Brothers and sisters; I appeal to you to copy me in all things. In your speech, in your prayer life, in your demonstration of self-control, in your love for the sinner, in your attitudes towards others, in your devotion to God, copy me in all things!”
Due to my own short-comings I would find it very difficult to begin a sermon like that, and yet I wonder if that is born out of false-humility. St. Paul holds the men and women of the Philippian Church in his heart (1:7). He longs for them with the affection of Christ Jesus (1:8). Paul loves the Church (4:1). Those whom Paul brought to faith; they are his joy and crown (4:1). As he thinks of, and writes to, and prays for the Church Paul is filled with love. How much do you love the Church? Not the building or the type of service or the choice of hymns or songs; how much do you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord?
St. Paul does not ask, “Do as I say!” Rather, he is bold enough to write this: “Join with others in following my example brothers and sisters.”
In education it has long been recognised that we learn things in a variety of different ways. If a child is only ever taught by lectures and by being told how things work, then he or she is likely to make limited progress. If on the other hand the teacher demonstrates how things work, and allows the student to try things for themselves, and if the student is able to watch, participate and learn, then their education will be greatly enhanced.
No wonder Jesus spent both quality and quantity time with his disciples! He didn’t just tell them things he showed them. Jesus didn’t simply teach with words, he taught with his life. Jesus embodied God’s truth. St. Paul, a forgiven sinner, aimed to live out his faith, and asked others to imitate him.
(4:9) Later on in this letter Paul writes, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.” Not many of us would feel comfortable about saying that. However, I am convinced that God would move us in that direction.
One of my teachers at College often said that, “Orthodoxy must lead to orthopraxy.” In other words correct thinking or correct belief must lead to correct practise.
The cross of Jesus Christ has opened up the gates of heaven to all believers. Brothers and sisters I have no idea where you were born and I have no idea whether you have British passports or not. I am guessing that most if not all of us here are UK citizens; but if you believe and trust in Jesus Christ you are a citizen of heaven; and we eagerly await a saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (3:20).
My purpose this morning is not to make anyone feel guilty about the ways in which our actions sometimes contradict our beliefs! No.
My aim is to encourage each one of us to fix our eyes upon Jesus, and to be open to his Holy Spirit, so that he would transform our belief, and that he would transform our actions, so that others would indeed wish to imitate us. A very good place to start is to pray that we would have genuine Christ-like love for one another so that the world would see that we are his disciples!
John 14:23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching.” Correct belief must lead to correct practise.
Let’s pray for one another, especially for our leaders, that in all things we will be able to join with Paul in humbly saying “Follow my example.” Amen!