When I was a kid there was a professional basketball player who famously told a reporter, “I’m not paid to be a role model!” This statement sparked an enormous debate about how much responsibility celebrities have to be good examples, particularly to children.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul takes an entirely different approach. He told the Corinthians; “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” Paul knew the truth. When we become followers of Christ, people are going to be watching us and it is our responsibility to follow Jesus well, particularly if we have some longevity in our spiritual walk. Paul didn’t shrink away from this reality, he embraced it!
How did Paul seek to lead the Corinthians well?
First, he gave up his “rights” for them. Though Paul knew that he had freedom in Christ, he purposefully did not do things that might offend them and thus tarnish his example or lead them astray. For example, he was sensitive to what he ate or drank based on the company that he was keeping (1 Cor. 10:27-29).
Second, Paul knew the scriptures. When he advised people, he often referred to what God had already recorded in his word (1 Corinthians 10:1-111). He also commended those learning from him who went to the scriptures for themselves (Acts 17:11).
Third, Paul didn’t try to mold his followers into mirror images of himself. He knew that God had equipped each of them with their own unique talents and spiritual gifts and he honored all of them (1 Corinthians 12) and implored them to develop and be faithful to the callings that God had given them (2 Timothy 4:2).
Paul loved the church so much that he sacrificed everything just to share the Good News of Jesus with them (2 Corinthians 11).
Finally, Paul prayed for them (1 Corinthians 1:4).
There is no indication that Paul considered his responsibility to be a good example of Jesus a drudgery and neither should we. Saying, “follow me as I follow Christ” takes a lot of guts, but people are worth it! (And even more, Jesus is worth it!) Let’s have the guts to do it!
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Reading Plan–Week Twenty-Eight
Day One–1 Corinthians 8
Day Two–1 Corinthians 9
Day Three–1 Corinthians 10
Day Four–1 Corinthians 11
Day Five–1 Corinthians 12