Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Focus on Good Examples
Too often believers see other Christians make bad, sinful choices and focus on that. It seems that even if a Christian lives a good life, making righteous decisions 95% of the time, some people focus on the 5% instead of focusing on the 95%. That’s human nature, but that doesn’t mean its right. Paul wanted the church at Philippi to follow his example and model those of his party (“just as you have us as a model”) and to keep their eyes on those “who live as we do.” He never anywhere in Scripture said to focus on the negative aspects of believers’ lives. I think this is why so many compromise with sin. They see other Christians who in a weak moment make a sinful choice, and they rationalize their own actions by thinking or saying, “Well, since they’re a Christian and they’re doing that, then it must not be that bad” or “It must not be sin.” If we are to follow anyone’s example, it should be that of Christ, Who died to Himself in order to serve us, shedding His own blood for wicked sinners, who were once His enemy (Rom. 5:8, 10).
Imitate Those Who Imitate Christ
Once again, Paul tells believers, this time in the church at Corinth, to imitate him, as He is imitating Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Whoever abides in Christ is supposed to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). If someone is living like Christ, they are a good example for us to follow, but only if or as long as they are following Christ’s footsteps. Paul mentored Titus and told him to show himself in every respect to be a model of good works and in sound speech so that no one can condemn him and put all who say anything bad about him to shame (Titus 2:7-8) because they obviously must be lying. If we are focusing only on what others do wrong, we are missing what we are doing wrong, setting ourselves up as their judge, and focusing on the speck in their eye while we have a log beam in our own eye (Matt. 7:3). Jesus would say to someone who’s just looking for a speck in other people’s eyes to take the log beam out of their own eye first before saying anything to anyone else (Matt. 7:5).
Imitate the Good, Ignore the Bad
Once more, Paul tells the church, this time at Thessalonica, to become imitators of him and his associates (1 Thess. 1:6) but never to focus on those who are doing things wrong; therefore, his custom to all the churches was to imitate what he did right (1 Cor. 4:16). Paul was quick to admit his faults and weaknesses (read Romans 7) but never to focus on them. We should imitate what is good while ignoring the wrong things that believers do. Now if it’s a serious sin that hurts the church’s witness, such as adultery or something like that, then that believer is to be approached, first one on one, then bringing a witness, and only then, if all else fails, bringing it before the church (Matt. 18:15-17).
A Closing Prayer
Great God, please help me to focus on the good that others do and not on the bad because I myself do enough bad things. If I see any bad, which I surely will, then I should pray for the Spirit of God to convict that person since I am not the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray.
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