Join with others in following my example, brothers. Philippians 3:17
The 18th century English author, Oliver Goldsmith, wrote, “People seldom improve when they have no other model than themselves to copy after.”
This is true for spiritual growth as well. Saint Paul writes to the Philippians: “Join with others in following My example.” It was hard for people who recently had come out of paganism to lead Christian lives. So let them copy the example of the apostle. He showed the converts how to exercise love, patience, and courage under difficult conditions. And Saint Paul adds, “Take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Philippians 3:17). Members of the group can encourage one another as they walk together in the footsteps of their spiritual leader.
If early Christians followed the example of the apostles, who was the model for the apostles? It was Jesus Christ, their teacher and exemplar. After our Lord had washed the disciples’ feet as an object lesson in humble service, He said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).
What the disciples learned from their Master, they passed on to others, especially how Christians should conduct themselves when they must suffer for the faith Saint Peter writes: “Christ suffered for you leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). With great forbearance He bore our sins in His body on the cross. He replied to curses and abuses with blessings and intercessions.
Early Christians had the apostles as models, and they in turn followed the example of Jesus Christ. We can go back one more step: The example for the Son of God was the heavenly Father, whose will Jesus followed and whose will He wants us to obey. He says: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Again, be loving to all, for that is how God is, who lets His sun shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust. How blessed we are to have all this guidance!
PRAYER: Thank You Lord God for giving us Your Son as the exemplar and enabler of Christian conduct. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)