In today’s text (Philippians 3:12-4:1) the Apostle Paul declares to us all that there is a right way and a wrong way to live the Christian life. There are good examples and there are bad examples of what a Christian life should look like. Paul describes some bad examples in today’s text…
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18–19)
Paul urges us to note those who are properly following Christ and follow their examples. “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” (Philippians 3:17)
You might be tempted to think Paul was being arrogant with statements like this. But in reality, every Christian should be following Christ to the degree that we can each also say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
We need more good examples today of real Christianity. God help us to live in such a way that we can each confidently say along with the Apostle Paul, “… I urge you, imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16b)
The Apostle Paul made statements like this in humility, knowing that he was also still a work in progress. That’s why he wrote in this same letter, “Not that I have already attained, or amalready perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12)
Though Paul encouraged others to follow his example, he still had a godly attitude of humility, Paul considered himself to be “the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Later he called himself “less than the least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8), and finally he said that he was even the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).
In no way was the apostle Paul an egotist. Nevertheless, he knew that his converts needed an example to see, as well as precepts to learn. The Lord Jesus Christ, of course, is our real example (1 Peter 2:21). But by living a life patterned after Christ, however, Paul could say: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1).
We all need to see Christ in the lives of our Christian leaders. By the grace of God, we also need to live as Christ did, so that when people follow us, they also will be following Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
“Those things, which ye have both learned, andreceived, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
Let’s endeavor to press on to maturity and be godly examples to all.