Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate Paul’s two letters to the believers in Thessalonica: 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. Why? Because even though Paul was only in Thessalonica for a few weeks (perhaps only 2-3 weeks), in those letters he was able to point them back to the way he and those with him lived among them as an example for them to emulate.
In fact, the title of this post comes from the NIV translation of the end of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “You know how we lived among you for your sake.” The ESV translates it like this: “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” [A literal translation would be something like this: “You know what manner [of men/people] we were among you for you.”
In other words, Paul is pointing the readers of his letter (in Thessalonica) back to the example that he and others set while they lived among them. A real, living example was very important for Paul and others in the New Testament.
I thought about this passage (and the importance of example) recently when I read a post by Christopher at “Life With Da Man CD” called “Take For Example…” (By the way, please take the time to read Christopher’s whole post. It’s well worth it, and I can’t do it justice in this short post.)
At one point, when thinking about Bible studies that he’s been part of, Christopher wrote this:
It reminded me of some Bible class experiences I had a long time ago. The nature of the studies required answering questions from a booklet covering 13 weeks of lessons on a given topic.
Some of the questions asked in the week’s lesson would nudge towards the students giving answers based on personal experiences. What would tend to happen at that point, is that people would give generic answers. Nothing specific, mostly seeking to insert some scriptures to reinforce familiar concepts. Little, if anything in the way of real life experiences.
Have you noticed this also? Is there a lack of teaching by example among the church today? If so, why do you think that is?
Can you think of time when someone taught you something about God (a spiritual lesson, I guess) by example? Have you ever learned something by observing someone’s life?