Summary: Paul tells us to pay attention to godly examples in Christian living
3.17.19 Philippians 3:17–4:1
17 Brothers, join together in imitating me and in paying attention to those who are walking
according to the pattern we gave you. 18 To be sure, many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. I
told you about them often, and now I am saying it while weeping. 19 Their end is destruction, their
god is their appetite, and their glory is in their shame. They are thinking only about earthly things.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus
Christ. 21 By the power that enables him to subject all things to himself, he will transform our humble
bodies to be like his glorious body. 4:1 So then, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way keep standing firm in the Lord, my dear friends.
When you want your child to excel in a sport, you can buy videos that show them exactly how to precisely do something. Shooting videos and throwing videos are meticulous in how to hold the ball and release the ball for maximum accuracy and success. When you are a good student it helps you to be good athlete.
The same can ring true when it comes to your finances. I have read several financial books where people have also studied the habits of those who are financially successful. What kind of cars do they buy? Where and how do they invest? They try to learn from the best in order to possibly be the best.
There is some truth to that when it comes to the way we live our Christian lives as well. Paul writes, “Brothers, join together in imitating me and in paying attention to those who are walking according to the pattern we gave you.” There are Christian people who exhibit a strong faith and character in life. They don’t just punch the clock of Christianity on Sunday. Their whole lives exhibit faithfulness. Maybe it’s your grandma. Maybe it’s your classmate. How do they get that way? Pay attention to them.
Many times you have to do some prying and ask some questions, because you can’t see what goes on behind the scenes. I think of Roger Federer. From 2003 to 2010 he had won Wimbledon six times (including five in a row), five U.S. Opens (all in a row), four Australian Opens and one French Open. But then from ages 29 to 35 he only won one major. People thought he was basically done. He was giving his child a bath when he slipped on the water in the bathtub and tore a meniscus. He had to recuperate from there. But when he healed and came out of recuperation he ended up better than ever, and he did it in his upper 30’s. It made people wonder “how?” They asked him, and come to find out he took that time of recuperation to evaluate his weakness and put extra time into his backhand. His weakness ended up being his strength. So my point is, where did his great backhand come from? It came from pain and practice. How does this apply to spiritual strengths? Sometimes those who are strong at something had to learn it and acquire that strength through weakness and failure and practice. Some of the most patient and loving people you may know were not there thirty years ago. Sometimes it took someone to take them under their wing to show them and emulate a certain behavior or attitude for them. When you study their lives and ask them about it, they might have some insights as to how they got to be that way.
We need more positive examples in our lives! It used to be that a parent or a grandparent would be present to emulate for the child how to pray and how to worship. They would fold the child’s hands and teach the child how to pray. They would set aside time before bed to read through a Bible story. When singing in church, they would open up the hymnal for the child and point to the words so the child could follow along. When they sang, the parent would smile and encourage them to do so. At home, if someone sees you caring for your parents or taking care of your neighbors, this leaves a lasting impression on them. If they witness a husband and a wife smiling at one another and speaking kindly, it is a great example for the child and for their friends. (Unfortunately, I haven’t done a good job of that when it comes to my driving.) We live in such an immature age that now the children witness the embarrassing behavior of their parents and they shake their heads in shame. They need someone to look up to but we aren’t thinking of ourselves as role models or even trying to be.