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Living by Example

(This study has valuable lessons for both mature Christians and new believers!)

What was Paul's instruction to Timothy?

1 Timothy 4:12

Young Timothy was encouraged to be "an example of the believers" in several different areas of his life.  1) In his speech; 2) In his daily conduct and behavior; 3) In his love for God and others;  4) In his attitude;  5) In his faithfulness;  6) In his holy and pure lifestyle.

In other words Timothy was told to be the model Christian, the person someone would look to for guidance on how they should be living.  A true Christian will be leading a Christ-like life, and this was the standard Paul laid out for Timothy.  But not only does this verse apply to Timothy, but also to every believer of Jesus Christ.  What kind of example are you providing for others?  If you were the only Christian model that a person had, what would be their view of Christianity? 

Why is our example so important?

1 Timothy 4:16    Philippians 2:15    1 Peter 2:11-16

In this same chapter Paul went on to explain that the way we live not only impacts our salvation but the salvation of those we come in contact with.  Whether we like it or not our actions are going to have an influence on those around us.  So let's live "blameless and harmless" lives so that we can "shine as lights in the world". 

How can our example affect other Christians?

1 Corinthians 11:1    1 Corinthians 8:9    Romans 14:13

Paul tells us to be a follower of him just as he is a follower of Christ.  Often it is beneficial for us to have a physical example of godly living in order to gain encouragement and insights from someone who is truly walking the Christian way.  "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Philippians 4:9).  On the other hand, a poor example can have a devastating influence on another Christian.  We need to be extremely careful that our choices don't cause our fellow brother or sister to fall into sin.  Paul said to avoid all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).  Even though we may feel something is ok for us to do, it may not be ok for someone else to do.  Different people struggle in different areas.  Let's say that you have a friend who is struggling with an addiction to candy bars.  In her heart she feels convicted that God wants her to give up on chocolate.  Over eating chocolate may not be a problem for you and you don't have these same convictions.  Now, if you knew she was having these struggles and offered her chocolate or even just ate some in front of her, then your actions could possible result in her stumbling into sin.  So we need to make sure that our actions don't lead others astray. 

How can we be a positive example for others?

1 John 2:6     1 Peter 2:21     Mark 2:14

In order to be an uplifting example for those around us, we first have to be following Christ's example in our daily life.  Just as Jesus instructed His disciples to follow Him, today he is calling men and women to "walk even as He has walked".  "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

Let's take another look at 1 Timothy 4:12 and see how Jesus
is our example in every aspect of this:

1) In Speech

1 Peter 2:21-23    Luke 4:22    John 14:10
Prophecies of Christ: Isaiah 50:4, 61:1-3

Jesus was always ready to speak words of comfort and healing to those in distress.  The book of Isaiah prophesied that He knew how to speak the right words at the right time and this is because he was always looking to His Father for wisdom and instruction, as He said in the book of John.  Throughout the gospels the Pharisees and Sadducees continually tried to snare Him in His words.  But they just couldn't do it because "Never man spake like this man " (John 7:46).  Jesus said "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).  May God give us the grace to speak like Christ!

2) In Conduct & Behavior

Mark 1:35     Luke 2:52    John 8:29

Jesus knew that He needed to spend quiet moments with his Father in order to be the Teacher and Savior of mankind.  He lived a life that was pleasing in His Father's eyes.  The Bible calls us to do the same (1 John 3:22, Hebrews 13:16).

3) Love for God and Others

Matthew 15:32      Ephesians 5:1-2
Luke 7:13    John 17:24

The gospels are filled with instances where Jesus was reaching out in love to the multitudes.  His instruction for Christians is to " love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12-13).  Christ cared so much about us that He died for our sins and now He wants us to share in His eternal Kingdom of glory (John 14:1-3). Peter advises us: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" (1 Peter 1:22)

4) Attitude

John 6:38    Philippians 2:5-9

Christ had an attitude that was the exact opposite of selfishness.  Though He is God, He laid aside His own desires and plans to accomplish His Father's divine will.  What a rebuke to our human pride and envy!

5) Faithfulness

Hebrews 12:2    Luke 18:31-33, 9:51

Jesus was faithful until the end.  He knew without a doubt that God would raise up from the grave and He wouldn't let anything get in the way of what He came to do.

6)  Holy & Pure Lifestyle

Hebrews 4:15   1 Peter 1:18-19   Luke 23:41,47


Christ lived a Holy and blameless life, which was clearly evident to those around Him.  The Bible says "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16).  The only way that we can be holy is when Christ is dwelling in our hearts, living out His life within us.  Then and only then can we be a real and genuine example for the believers (1 Timothy 4:12).

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