I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 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.1 Corinthians 4:14-17
Last week my son-in-law forwarded a few pictures taken of him and our three grandsons from a Spring Break cruise. On one of the photos, each of them struck essentially the same pose – hands in their pockets with their thumbs on the outside. I’m not sure whether the little boys were consciously following their Dad’s example or not, but it reminded me of Paul’s exhortation in the passage above.
That’s the message Paul is relating to in the passage above. Like a father of a son, Paul urged the people in Corinth to be imitators of him. Later in the letter, he will write, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.”
There’s a lot of truth in that short quote because people are always observing our lives. Do we practice what we preach? Are we hypocritical in the way we live? Are there inconsistencies?
That’s the key. When we are following Christ closely, we can encourage others to follow in our steps.