So that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance (CSB).
The Christian way of life is a life of learning. To be a disciple of Christ is to be a learner of him and also of his people. The second can be valuable because of the union of the Lord Jesus and his people. We are “in him” and he is in us. The Spirit of God develops the character of Christ in us, so that his words, ideas, attitudes, and actions become ours. This happens in everyone who knows the Lord, which points to the value that we can gain as we learn from his people. All have significance as examples through their union with Christ and the transforming work of the Spirit. Consider how Paul commended the Macedonian churches to the Corinthians in the matter of giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-6).
The Spirit uses various methods to accomplish his purpose of developing the character of Jesus in us. For example, he uses the Scriptures and people teaching them. The Spirit wants us to understand that he also uses the examples of other followers of the Lord. Later in the letter to the Hebrews, the writer will present numerous examples of faith (Hebrews 11). James writes of the faith that worked of Abraham and Rahab, the endurance of Job, and the prayers of Elijah. Such believers provide models or patterns of faith and other graces that we are to imitate. Think of how John pointed out the good example of Demetrius (3 John 11-12).
- God himself is worthy of our imitation. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children (Ephesians 5:1 ESV; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6). This involves our consecration to God and his purposes. But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV, my emphasis). This is one of the core principles of godliness. We are to be set apart to God and what pleases him.
- We are to imitate spiritual leaders like Paul. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV; cf. 4:16). Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7 NIV). The essential prerequisite is that they themselves are imitating Christ. We ought to see Christ-likeness in them and imitate it.
- We should also imitate local churches. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews (1 Thessalonians 2:14 NIV). Yes, entire local groups of believers are to show forth the power of faith in God. Churches have been far too content to drift along, coddling the spiritually lazy and weak, when they ought to be aiming for strong faith in their whole assembly.
Who are the “model believers” from whom you learn faith, love, hope, joy, peace, and goodness? You need such people on the pilgrim way. Are you a model for others? Can you challenge your brothers and sisters in Christ to imitate you? How is the Spirit of God making you a better example now? What fresh ways of godliness is he forming in your words, ideas, attitudes, and actions? May you have the joy of seeing him form Christ in you more clearly the rest of this month!
Grace and peace, David