The examples we have had in our lives have profound influence on the way we live. Our parents are usually the biggest examples we have in life, and thus they have the greatest impact on the way we live.
The example of our parents the fundamental guide for our lives. If our parents are good examples then we have a positive model to follow, but if they are bad examples then we have a negative model to overcome.
Thankfully the influences we have in life are not limited to our parents. We have the influence of teachers, mentors, friends, and even media. Books and movies provide examples that can powerfully impact our lives.
In the Bible we discover there is another example that should affect the way we live. The apostle Paul wrote:
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to him. (Ephesians 5:1-2, NLT)
We are to follow God’s example, and that example is personified in Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we discover how we are to live as image bearers of God. Colossians 3:15 tells us that, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” (NLT) By following the example of Jesus we are following the example of God. The two are one and the same.
This means we have to answer a very important question: How do we follow the example of Jesus?
You and I were not part of the small group of people who were able to witness the way Jesus lived His daily life. This makes things difficult. It is one thing to follow the example of our parents who raised us, but it is another thing to follow the example of a man who walked this earth 2,000 years ago.
I think there are two important actions that must be part of our lives if we are going to follow Jesus. These two actions are the tools Jesus gave to us that open our eyes to the example he left behind.
The first action that we must do is that we must study the Bible. The apostle John wrote: I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13; NLT). John is writing so we can know how to live this new and eternal life, that we have received from Jesus.
The entire Bible is useful for helping us understand how Jesus lived and how we can follow his example. The Old Testament is full of stories of people of faith and how they lived their lives. It also contains God’s Law, which are God’s commandments for life. The Gospels are the record of how Jesus lived, the book of Acts is a record of how His first followers lived, and the rest of the New Testament explains how we can apply Jesus’ example to our lives.
The second action is that we must observe the lives of mature christians. The apostle Paul wrote; And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s (1 Corinthians 11:1; NLT). Paul had been following Jesus for years, and so his experience made him an example for younger Christ Followers to follow. Paul’s readers did not see Jesus, but they could see Paul and how he lived.
From reading biographies of men and women of faith to spending time with mature Christians we are able to see how Jesus would respond to the challenges that we face everyday. These people flesh out the words and teachings of Jesus so we can apply them to our lives.
How we live our lives is influenced by the examples we have had in our lives. God desires us to follow the example He gave us in Jesus. When we follow Jesus we discover what it means to truly live.
Questions to Ponder:
- What examples have been the most influential in your life?
- How is it possible to follow the God’s example?
- What type of example do you provide for other people?