Summary: Give consideration to what example you set for the world around you. God has a great plan for His people and for His world; He calls us to show that in our lives, by our words and our actions.
We Are The Example
Text: 1 Timothy 4:12
ILL: Story: Michael Vick Signs Contract With Eagles. Commentators debating the move speak to Vick’s role as an example, with one saying he didn’t consider Vick an example for anyone.
And that is what I would like us to consider this morning, not Michael Vick and the Eagles but the concept of example.
Edmund Burke, statesman of the United Kingdom and philosopher (most of us recognize his quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”), also said, “Example is the school of humankind, and they will learn at no other.” (Letters On a Regicide Peace, 1796)
Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher and physician, said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” (Thoughts for Our Times, 1975)
The power of example is a reality for human beings. We can see the evidence of it in the great American Marketing Machine. Every day we are bombarded with “examples” of how much better looking we could be, or how more successful or how better fit and every one of these ads parade images of people who have achieved these things by using this product or that product. But let’s not take the word of world in this matter. Let’s consider the power of example as shown by God.
I. The Power of Example
A. The power of example is found throughout the Bible.
1. In the Old and New Testament we are provided numerous examples, positive and negative.
a. The obedience of Able and the rebellion of Cain (Genesis)
b. The faith of Abraham (Hebrews 11) and the faithlessness of Ahaz, King of Judah (Kings 16)
2. William Bennett (former Secretary of the Department of Education) said in a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on 3 October 2002:
“Precepts are also important. The Ten Commandments, the principles of American democracy, rules of courteous behavior – these and other lists of rights and wrongs should be provided to young people. But as we provide them, young people need to know that we take these precepts seriously.”
He went on to say:
“If we want young people to take right and wrong seriously, there is an indispensable condition: They must be in the presence of adults who take right and wrong seriously. Only in this way will they see that virtue is not just a game, not just talk, but rather that it is something that grown-up people, people who have responsibilities in the world and at home, take seriously.”
3. God has given us His precepts and numerous examples to show us that we can live righteous and Godly lives.
4. We are told that a main reason we have the Old Testament is for example. Paul wrote of the account of the Children of Israel wandering the wilderness:
1 Corinthians 10:6a Now these things happened as examples for us,
And to the Romans Paul wrote:
Romans 15:4a For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,
B. The apostle Paul understood the power of example.
1. He was aware of his own example.
a. He alluded to example in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 when exhort the church to walk in a manner worthy of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
2. In His letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12) and Titus (2:7) he commanded them to set a proper example.
C. Jesus is given as the perfect example for us to follow.
1. 1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
II. Brothers And Sisters We Are Examples
A. Christians are to be the "light of the world."
1. Matthew 5:14 - 16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; “nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
2. Could this teaching any plainer?
a. Those who claim to be Christians are influencing people in one way or another.
b. As Christians, we must realize the world is judging Christianity by us.