All of us have been influenced by others. We especially try to be like others as we are kids, but that can also be true as we get older. The problem with this truth is whether or not the person I am trying to be like is worthy of imitation. As I was reading 1 Corinthians 4 today I was struck again by a statement of Paul in verses 16-17 which says, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”
Paul is commanding his children in the faith to act like he does. Since he was their father in the faith, in effect he says, “’I call upon my children to take after their father.’ It is so seldom that a father can say that. For the most part it is too often true that a father’s hope and prayer is that a son will turn out to be all that he has never succeeded in being. Most of us who teach cannot help saying, not, ‘Do as I do,’ but, ‘Do as I say.’ But Paul, not with pride, but with complete unself-consciousness, can call upon his children in the faith to copy him” (Barclay).
I find it interesting that the command Paul gives is also in the present tense. That construction is revealing continuous action. Paul expects his children in the faith to always use him as a model for life. In fact, everywhere he goes he teaches the same thing and the same ways of following Jesus.
Those of us who are parents know how our kids model our behavior. Paul gives us the great challenge of having a consistent and worthy model of following Jesus that others can imitate in the home and outside the home.
Father, thank you for providing people like Paul that are worthy of my imitation even today. He modeled how to follow Jesus and how to help others do the same. Help me to continuously embrace this truth so that I can confidently ask others to imitate me as I do Christ. Help me to especially model life for my family.
Following Jesus with you,