Summary: Paul says, "Imitate me" for he imitates Christ. This is not easy but necessary. As followers of Christ, we are to emulate Christ and let others see Christ in us.
1 Cor 4:14-17
14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Cor 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
It is not easy for Paul to say this, but it is necessary. He needs to live what he says.
• If you are a teacher, you need to live what you teach.
• If we are followers of Jesus Christ, people must be able to see Christ in us.
• Paul has been a spiritual father to the Corinthian believers. They are his spiritual children.
• They are going to learn from him, not just what he says but how he lives.
Paul is aware that all eyes are on Him. Many are watching him, either to imitate or to criticize.
• For this reason, he tries - by the strength God gives - to live a life that is pleasing to God.
• He seeks to imitate Christ and urges others to follow his example.
He said the same to the believers in the other churches.
• To the believers in Thessalonica, he says in 2 Thess 3:7 he says “…you ought to follow our example.”
• And then to the Philippians, he said in Phil 4:9 [turn to it] “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.”
• He said whatever you have learned, received, heard, or seen in me… This is not easy, but it is necessary. He has to live what he teaches.
We have to live what we teach.
• Imitation is actually part of our human nature. People are imitators.
• We follow people we admire, like successful sportsmen or famous celebrities.
• Many youth today like to imitate their favourite idols or celebrities.
• They copy the way they sing, dance, and dress. They imitate their style, fashion, attitude, language, and physical appearance.
LEARN QUICKER BY OBSERVING
An octopus has two large, complex eyes that are camera-like in structure and their vision is sharp. They learn very quickly by observing the surrounding.
In an experiment, octopuses were trained with food rewards to attack specific colour balls. Another group of octopus observing from an adjacent tank were released. Those watching the activity with red balls attacked red balls and those which had seen white balls attacked those.
The responses based on observation were faster than those which had been trained. They learn faster by observing with their eyes.
People are the same. What we see influences us.
• We learn more and quicker from observing than from listening.
• Observation has the power of influence. It can affect us in two ways. (1) We are influenced by what we see; and (2) We are influencing others by the way we behave. Others are affected by what they see in us.
(1) We are influenced by what we see
Firstly, what we see influence our thoughts.
• Whether it is television, movies, rock concerts, the actions of co-workers or classmates, we tend to imitate what we see. Even if we do not duplicate the action, we become less opposed to it and "don’t see anything wrong with it."
• The continual seeing of a thing creates greater and greater acceptance. The more we see violence on the television, the less we are bothered by it and the more we tend to accept it.
Therefore Paul says in Phil 4:8 “Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.”
• Only then he mentions verse 9 (“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice.”)
(2) We are influencing others by what they see
Secondly, we affect those who are watching us.
• This is true in all areas of human experience: parents and child, husband and wife, a boss and his staff.
• Others are watching what we do, and the more they value us the more they will imitate us.
• Children especially, they are natural mimics. They simply imitate everything they see, whether good or bad.
The President of USA, Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) invited some kids to a meal at the White House. Since they did not know how to behave at such an occasion, the kids thought the best thing would be just to do what the President did.