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Replay: How to be an example to others

Posted by on Jul 6, 2013 in discipleship, scripture | 7 comments

Replay: How to be an example to others

Four years ago, I wrote a post called “How to be an example to others.” In many ways, this is still a challenge for me. If I were to change anything in the post below, it would be this: We should not seek to be an example; our life is already an example to those around us. Instead, the question we should ask ourselves is this: “How can we live as a positive example of a follower of Jesus Christ?” I still think that Paul’s “example” to the Thessalonians is a good place to start.

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How to be an example to others

 
In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul reminds the Christians in Thessalonika about the time that he spent with them. Paul probably only spent a few weeks with the Thessalonian believers. However, it seems that he made the most of that time.

This is what Paul says:

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed- God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved- so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last! But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you- I, Paul, again and again- but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2 ESV)

What can we learn from Paul’s example:

1: Continue making disciples in spite of difficulties.

2: Seek to please God, not people.

3: Do not try to persuade people by your rhetoric or your method of teaching or your arguments.

4: Do not make demands on people, even if you think you may have the right.

5: Gently care for people.

6: Share your life with people, not just your words.

7: Work hard serving people and serving with people.

8: Continually encourage people to walk with Christ.

9: Give God all the glory when people grow in maturity.

I don’t know about you, but I think I still have a long way to go before I am following Paul’s example. While I can see where my life and discipleship has matured in some of these areas over the last few years, I can also see where I have much more need for growth.

Primarily, I think the first item is one of the toughest for me. Paul suffered greatly at Philippi – he was imprisoned. Yet, he continued to make disciples. He did not let the difficulties distract him from his purpose.

I tend to be distracted much more easily. If something goes wrong or if life gets difficult, I tend to withdraw and forget or ignore the fact that I am supposed to be making disciples. Sometimes, I let my circumstances dictate my level of obedience. I can learn from Paul here. I can learn to trust God and follow the Spirit in spite of my cicumstances, allowing him to strengthen me.

What about you? Have you seen growth as a disciple-maker in your life? In what area or areas do you still need to grow?


7 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-6-2013

    Your posts are always thought provoking, Alan.
    I have definitely seen growth especially while disciple-making. I am consciously not looking for areas in my own life to focus on because I am trusting Jesus as the author of my faith and life. He knows my strengths and weaknesses and when I rest in him I can hear his voice much better. Things work out better if I am looking to him and focusing on others around me rather than myself.
    I am starting to see the lists of “how to do or be” as promises of Jesus living his life through us by the Spirit. I am learning that when I am in situations or conversations I can ask for help and wisdom and am assured that he is with me and in me and in the conversations working for the good of each person. I don’t feel pressure of “supposed to” be making disciples because I know that the Spirit can do much better than I, but I can participate as he leads.
    Isn’t making disciples simply showing people what it looks like to follow Jesus and as they get to know him they can hear his voice as well?

  2. 7-6-2013

    Nice. Mr. Knox if I may ask, what is your method of making disciples?

  3. 7-7-2013

    Elvera,

    Is it possible that the Spirit could use a Scripture passage like the one I quoted in 1 Thessalonians to speak to you about your strengths and weaknesses in helping others follow Jesus?

    Franklin,

    “Making disciples” (from my understanding) means helping each other follow Jesus. Jesus could be leading us all in different directions to do different things and to grow in different areas. But we can all still help each other. My method is to spend time with people, listen to them, listen to God, encourage them to follow what God is telling them to do, and to be encouraged as others exhort me to follow what God is telling me to do.

    -Alan

  4. 7-7-2013

    Thanks Mr. Knox I asked this question because of what you said about “making disciples” being what you need to work on most. I think I have learnt a lot in the short space of time I have been here……I mean…..A LOT…..so in the light of this I would want to congratulate you on the great part you are playing in the Lord’s worldwide vineyard today. The Lord sometimes “hide” the impactof our good actions on people FROM US , so perhaps we do not rest on our oars.

    I may not agree with everything you say but I feel you are a GODSENT.
    I would also thank Mr. Randy McRoberts for unknowingly introducing you to me. Press on Elder Knox!

  5. 7-7-2013

    I’ve found over the years that I’m the most effective when I’m in the biggest problems or when I’ve really messed up. I mean – people are looking for reality not perfection. So often we live in the smugness of our own ability and even though that may be a good example in that we have our moral bases covered – it may not be a testimony to Christ at all.

    First – of all – love the people that are around you – and when you mess up – say “hey I really made a mess of this one – but God is going to help me out of this” – and they see the reality of the situation and then see things transform before their eyes. When they see that there is a God at work even in sinful man, that gives them hope that He will work in their lives too. That’s what I call – sharing “our own selves” – and sharing “the gospel of God”.

    So often – we put way too much emphasis on US and not nearly enough emphasis on HIM. If we were perfect – we wouldn’t need HIM.

  6. 7-7-2013

    Paul really, really loved these people as “brothers, as a “nursing mother, as a “father with his children“, being “affectionately desirous“. His encouragement and discipling-making efforts flowed out of that love, which was Christ’s love in him.

    My God-given strengths mean that I can thankfully and joyfully and openly live my life before and with others as an example. My God-given weaknesses mean that I need to rely on Him which is also an example to others. God knows that I am not Paul and has not put groups of people in my life like the Thessalonians but He is opening my ears and eyes to what he is doing around me. I am more and more aware of his amazing, affectionate love for me as a Father and Brother and so as the knowledge of that immense love permeates my being, I am able to really love others, which can sometimes surprise me.

    Our suffering and difficulties in life are important for our spiritual growth and enable us to reach out to others in similar circumstances. It seems everyone these days are carrying heavy burdens – loss, illness, relationship or financial troubles etc.- and feeling Christ`s care and concern for them can be overwhelming sometimes especially when we don`t have the solutions. Pointing them to Jesus and helping them know his love and his voice may be all we can do, while trusting that the Spirit knows what bumps and turns in their journey they need for their growth.

    We are all so uniquely created and our relationship with God is also unique. I am learning to abide and rest and watch and listen and follow. It is not passive but an active walk with the Spirit and I can see that the items in your list would naturally flow out of that love of Christ that is in us, for all those that God puts in our lives and across our paths.

  7. 7-12-2013

    I appreciate everyone’s comments on this post. May God continue to work through all of us to not only help us grow in maturity in Jesus Christ, but also to point others toward maturity in him.

    -Alan