Summary: Paul was a good example. Paul said in 1st Cor. 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." How did Paul set a good example?
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE (part two)
In life there are good examples and there are bad examples. We need to set a good example for the lost to see and be drawn to and for the church to see and want to follow suit. Recap: Jesus was a good example of humility and service. When he washed the disciples' feet he said he was setting an example for them to follow. We need to be willing to serve with humility and do whatever Jesus would require of us.
And Jesus was a good example of suffering with dignity. He committed no sin yet he was accused, insulted, threatened and abused. Yet he did not retaliate but let the Father handle it instead. We need to do the same when we are dealing with persecution or unjust suffering. Then we looked at some ways we can be a good example. Paul told Timothy and Titus to set a good example in the areas of speech, in life (conduct), love, faith, purity, integrity and seriousness. We need to be a good example in all these areas. Today, we'll see how Paul set a good example for us to follow.
Paul was a good example. Paul said in 1st Cor. 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." How did Paul set a good example?
He was an example of God's grace and the proper response to it.
1st Tim. 1:12-17, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
Here Paul highlights an example of God's unlimited patience, mercy and grace. Paul was once against Christ and did everything in his power to stop his influence; including having Christians thrown into prison and even executed. When Jesus appeared to Paul on the Damascus road he made it clear that what Paul was doing to his followers he was doing to him. Paul came to believe in Jesus and along with that came the true recognition of the wrongs he had committed. This disturbed him greatly and may very well have been the thorn in his flesh that he begged Jesus to deliver him from in 2nd Cor. 12:7.
But Paul wanted people to understand that if God could be gracious and forgiving and patient with someone like him, the chief of sinners, then he can be that way towards anyone. Paul wanted people to not be afraid to come to Christ. He would say, 'no matter what you've done, it's not too big for Jesus to forgive; just look at my example'. God is ready to forgive anyone of anything if they would only come to him.
And we see the example of Paul's response to this matchless grace. The first thing he says is, 'I thank the Lord'. Paul was a thankful person. He recognized the grace shown to him and was grateful. This gratitude caused him to be totally selfless and dedicated to the cause of Christ. Paul suffered greatly for the faith but he never regretted it because he knew the reward.
And he also knew how much he didn't deserve it. He cherished the love of God toward him so he responded with loving others and encouraging the church to be examples of that same love. His life was about bringing glory and honor to God through his diligent work and unwavering devotion.
Do we recognize the grace and mercy that was shown to us? Do we see how undeserving we are? This humility is what it takes to see the magnitude of God's love and patience towards us. This recognition is important if we're going to be sold out for Jesus-like Paul. Paul's story is an example of God's love and patience and his response is an example of how we should react to being forgiven and receiving eternal life.
He was hard working.
2nd Thess. 3:6-9, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow."