Summary: Paul encourages the Philippians and us to live according to his pattern.
Albert Einstein once said, “The universe is not merely more complicated than we can understand. It’s more complicated than we can IMAGINE.” That’s an interesting thing to think about; how this whole Universe was formed by design. What a complex design it is! God had it in His mind’s eye before it ever came to be, then He spoke it into existence exactly according to His pattern.
Patterns are good and easy to follow. They make life easier to live. If your child knows when to go to bed at night; if you have a routine; life is easier to live. Even though they may complain about it, they crave and they want structure. It’s how we’re designed.
The Old Testament worship and life was designed to follow a specific pattern. Every morning and evening there was a sacrifice at specific times with specific animals. The tabernacle and temple were built according to specific design. The patterns were to help regulate life for the Israelites and keep them from chaos. In the big picture of the pattern all of those individual laws and sacrifices were meant to ultimately point the Israelites to their sin and their need for a sacrifice; for a Messiah to come and save them.
It’s this concept of pattern that Paul spoke of in today’s text. He wrote, Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. Paul was not afraid to think of himself as a role model. He wanted people to follow his pattern of living. That word for pattern basically means “a figure formed by a blow or impression.” I think of having a hammer with a chisel and meticulously chiseling a pattern into stone blow by blow. This is what Paul wanted to happen with the Philippians; that their lives would be according to his pattern.
Live According to the Pattern
I. Living without a pattern is the Devil’s pattern
Do you have a specific goal or design behind the way you live and the things you choose to do or not do? Or do you just do whatever comes next without any thought or purpose? If you have no ideal or no purpose or goal behind your life, you will have no means of testing whether something should be added into the pattern of your life or not. Satan will be able to weave all kinds of garbage into your life; and your life will soon fall apart. The Satanic pattern is one of chaos.
I think of what Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments. Exodus 32:25 says, “Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.” Think of how quickly the people of Israel fell apart! This is what Satan wants – people living by no pattern but their own – which is in reality his.
Paul described people that live this way by saying, Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. Think of Cain who was driven from civilization with his murder of Abel. It only took five generations of his descendants to go from running and hiding because of murder to then BRAGGING about murder. Lamech bragged to his wives,
I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.
If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” (Genesis 4:23)
He gloried in his power and his vengeful spirit. When the right pattern is lost, the wrong pattern quickly becomes the ideal. Those of you who have witnessed the shift in America’s attitude towards divorce, adultery, and homosexuality have seen it firsthand. Once you go down that road, chaos hits real quickly.
What really concern me are the less-insidious patterns that enter into our lives. Imagine your life to be a blanket, and you have certain yarns and threads that you want to be integral into the fabric of your life. There are other fabrics that aren’t as essential, but they add a little variety in life. One Christian might enjoy sports, while another enjoys music. One may love boating and another may love hunting. God allows and even encourages us to use the gifts that He’s given us to the glory of His name. The problem occurs when those things become the main fabric or pattern which you build your life around. That which was meant to add a little variety ends up becoming the main variety that you revolve your life around.
Just recently I sent out an email with the statistics of attendance for our kids in 9th through 12th grade for the past 13 months. Out of a total of 49 kids -