Follow My Lead
1). Imitate the Good Example; Phil. 3:17
2). Avoid the Bad Example; Phil. 3:18-19
3). Be the Citizen Example; Phil. 3:20-21
A man came to the pastor and said, “I’m in a desperate position. I’m over-extended on my credit. I can’t make my house payment or my car payment, creditors are always calling… we can’t afford food or clothing for the kids and it is causing me great depression. What should I do?
The pastor told him, “Do what I did when I was struggling about going into the ministry: I took my Bible, went to the park, sat on a bench and opened my Bible. I let the breeze turn the pages and looked at the first words that I saw. Philippians 3:14; I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Then I knew that I was to be a minister of Christ.”
The man thanked the pastor and left. Two years passed without hearing from the man. Then one Sunday, the man came to church with his family. He was outfitted in a new designer suit, his kids were all wearing designer clothes, and his wife was wearing an expensive fur coat.
The pastor quickly asked him, “Did you do what I did?”
He replied, “Yes, I did. I went to the park, opened my Bible and let the wind turn the pages. Then I knew exactly what I should do.”
“What were the first words that you saw?”
Philippians 3:17-21 (HCSB)
17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.
Imitate the Good Example
Philippians 3:17 (HCSB) 17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.
Paul did not have reservations in telling people, “Imitate me.” In fact, seven times the apostle tells the recipients of his letters to imitate him or follow his example.
- 1 Cor. 4:16; be imitators of me
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 (HCSB) 1 Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.
- Phil. 3:17; join in imitating me
- Phil. 4:9; do what you have… heard and seen in me
- 2 Thess. 3:7, imitate us
- 2 Thess. 3:9; imitate us
- 2 Tim. 1:13; hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me
The pressure of being a pastor that sets an example for you to follow is tremendous. How can I live up to the responsibility of being someone for you to imitate?
· IMITATE is where we get the word “Mimic”
· NOT do what I say and not what I do. Rather, Do what I say and do what I do.
I agree with Paul when he writes:
Philippians 3:12 (HCSB)
12 Not that I have already reached ⌊the goal⌋ or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
· I am not perfect, but I’m striving towards God’s goal… Christ has taken hold of me and I’m reaching for that high standard of God’s calling
Imitate me like I am imitating Christ Jesus.
- I read my Bible, nearly everyday… imitate me.
- I pray everyday and I pray with my family… imitate me.
- I faithfully meet with God’s people… imitate me
- I share the good news of Christ… imitate me
- I stand up for God’s Word… imitate me
- I am going to help with the kids during vacation Bible school… imitate me
- Imitate me like I am imitating Christ Jesus!
“But you are the pastor, you are supposed to live as an example for us…”
Follow other examples in the church
And in this passage, the divinely inspired apostle tells us to “observe those who live according to the example you have in us.”
OBSERVE = keep a watchful eye on, notice carefully
There are others in the church that live as examples for us. Some of the greatest examples that I have had in my life were not pastors. Godly men and women of all ages have been wonderful examples that I have looked up to.
This is one of the great strengtheners of the church. Bob and Mary Walker, Florence Foster, Carl and Judy Cline, George and Miriam Storm, Chester Davis, John Labendera, etc. etc. are all people that I have looked up to as examples of following Christ… and none of them are pastors!
Observe the good examples in the church… see how the power of God has changed their lives and “learn to share the power of Christ in the body of Christ, the church.” as J. Vernon McGee said.
Avoid the Bad Example
Be careful, because not everyone in the church is a good example. That is the next thing we find out in this passage:
Philippians 3:18-19 (HCSB) 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things,
You must watch out for the hypocrites in the church… don’t follow their example.
- Rev. Snider once said that someone told him that they don’t come to church because there are too many hypocrites in the church. He responded, “You should come, one more isn’t going to hurt.”
The letter to the Philippians repeats over and over again, Rejoice, Joy, and Rejoice in the Lord… but here, in discussing the posers of the Cross, the Apostle expresses great sorrow.
Professed Christians that…
- focus on earthly things… what does this world have to offer me? “Sure, right, Jesus, now what can I do to make my lot in life better?”
- focus on personal pleasures… satisfy my hunger, make me feel good, “How can I be pleased right now?”
- These ones not only hurt the Cross of Christ, and hinder the work of Christ… they live as ENEMIES of the cross of Christ.
- DC Talk, “The biggest problem with Christianity today is people that confess Jesus with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyles.”
Be the Citizen Example
In contrast to living with an earthly focus …
Philippians 3:20-21 (HCSB)
20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.
We live on earth, but our citizenship is heaven.
The air craft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, is more than a 1,000 feet long, has a 4.5-acre flight deck and she carries more than 5,500 sailors. The ship is a floating city with everything needed for the crew to maintain life while away from the homeland. I heard a crewman aboard the vessel state, “No matter where we are in the world, when we are on this ship we are on U.S. land.”
· United States citizens… in Malaysia, Australia or anywhere,
· Following United States laws.
· Our citizenship is in heaven, Jesus is our Lord.
· Are we following heaven’s laws?
· Can people tell that you are a heavenly citizen?
· Are you waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to come?
Do you live as an example of a heavenly citizen, so others will know how they should live?