Have you ever said that to anyone? It may sound like a bold claim—perhaps even an arrogant claim. But the scriptures clearly teach us the importance of living our lives in such a way that others can follow our example. (See this cute 4-minute video)
Consider these scriptures.
1 Corinthians 4:16
I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
1 Thessalonians 2:14
For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,
2 Thessalonians 3:7
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,
2 Thessalonians 3:9
It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
3 John 11
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
In these passages, the authors (i.e., Paul, John, and the author of Hebrews) express the importance, even the necessity, of imitating the faith of others. This is how the faith is delivered from one generation to the next. This is how disciples are made.
It’s not enough to tell someone what to do. That’s a good place to start, but we also need to show them what to do.
I like to work around the house and on my car. When I don’t have experience fixing a particular problem, I’ll often “YouTube” a video to see how to fix the problem. After watching the video, I will imitate the person in the video.
If “YouTube” is helpful for fixing a leaking toilet, how much more should imitation be helpful for walking obediently with Christ! How much more should we be making disciples by giving others an example to imitate.
Let me leave you with these two questions.
Are you living your life in such a way that you can encourage others to imitate your faith as you follow Christ? This doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect, but are you trying to walk in obedience to Christ?
Are you watching others and imitating their faithful obedience? Are you following the example of men and women who faithfully following Christ?