Summary: Changed lives earn the reputation of being a model worth imitating.
What types of role models have you chosen to follow in your life? We all have been impacted by a wide range of different people. Some of the examples have been good and helpful; others have been dangerous and harmful. We know that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) and yet sometimes we are not all that careful about who we hang with. The value of our college fellowship group – excellent role models to challenge us to live for Christ.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Prov. 13:20
Note that the Pharisees – despite all of the “truth” that they set forth from the OT Scriptures were explicitly identified as the type of role model we should reject: Matt. 23:1-5
“therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds”
Some public figures shy away from the responsibility of being regarded as a role model. They don’t want any accountability in their lives; but the fact is people are watching and people are imitating. (Arena of sports, music, entertainment, politics, etc.)
A good reputation is a valuable asset. “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth” (Prov. 22:1). Not easy to earn … very easy to have destroyed; that is why the Lord speaks so strongly against bearing false witness; against making false accusations; against slandering our brother. Our reputation should gain us a hearing to proclaim the gospel to others.
- our reputation in the work force
When we are laid off, we respond very differently from the world
- our reputation in the community – Where do people turn for help?
- our reputation in our family – our kids should be our greatest evangelistic asset
This good reputation that the believers from Thessalonica had earned was sufficient evidence that they were truly the elect of God. They weren’t phonies … they were realies (like we talked about last week).
CHANGED LIVES EARN THE REPUTATION OF BEING A MODEL WORTH IMITATING
3 ACTIVITIES RELATED TO BECOMING A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR OTHER BELIEVERS:
I. (:6) IMITATION -- GODLY IMITATION PRODUCES CHANGED LIVES
A. The Process of Godly Imitation – What is involved in imitating someone?
“You also became imitators”
Not just a bunch of monkeys – “monkey see, monkey do” in some type of rote fashion
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
More is caught than taught
You must pursue the spiritual disciplines that over time will help you to grow and mature; understanding that ultimately inward transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit by God’s grace – but not apart from our efforts and dedication
Look at how many people want to take some type of shortcut to spiritual maturity
B. The People Worthy of Godly Imitation
1. Visibly = Apostolic church planting team – Paul, Silas, Timothy – “of us”
Their spiritual parents in the Lord
These were not some spiritual big shots that you could never get close to; they were intimately involved in both public preaching and teaching and one-on-one discipleship (2 Thess. 3:7; Heb. 13:7)
2. Ultimately = Lord Jesus Christ – “and of the Lord”
Study the process by which Christ trained His disciples – not just some type of academic course of study; not just reading books and writing papers; but following Christ around; seeing how He ministered to people; on the job training for spiritual ministry
C. The Particulars of Godly Imitation – must be interpreted through the grid of the Word of God – that divine revelation that instructs us regarding how to live
“having received the word” (John 1:12 – the Word Incarnate as well)
-- must go to the only authoritative source for our rule of conduct – defines for
us the parameter of what is worth imitating and what is not
-- must not only listen but respond and apply the Word so that we live it out
- back to the 4 types of soil – we must be that good soil where the seed
takes root and produces godly fruit that remains even when the pressure
-- trying to understand some of my Catholic friends; they receive the writings of the church fathers on a par with the Word of God in terms of informing them of the particulars worthy of imitation; interesting argument: the church established the canon (which books are viewed as Scripture), therefore the church is a higher authority in some sense … very dangerous
D. The Pressure Cooker Environment in which Godly Imitation Flourishes
“in much tribulation” – affliction, intense pressure, confining pressure
That squeezing pressure that builds up in your chest
Not talking here so much about just the normal hardships of life – health problems, financial pressures, dealing with job changes, etc.