1 Corinthians 4:14-16:
I am not writing to embarrass you. I want to help you, just as parents help their own dear children. Ten thousand people may teach you about Christ, but I am your only father. You became my children when I told you about Christ Jesus. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
Paul is saying, “You may have a million complaints about me. I may seem like a failure and an embarrassment, weak and powerless. But not only have your criticisms failed to make me want to change, I actually want you to be like me. I beg you, be imitators of me.”
I think the Corinthians would have been horrified at the thought. “Imitate you! You are considered a fool, as weak and dishonored; you are hungry and thirsty, homeless and beaten; you work hard to support yourself with manual labor. People look at you and see filth, and the offscouring of all things. And you want me to imitate you?”
“Yes! Despite all these difficulties, and often because of them, the glory and power of Jesus Christ shines through me. This is what Christian service is.”
Last week a member of the Akaki denomination in Ethiopia was leading a Bible study in a remote village. Some Muslims came at night and began beating him. While he was being beaten his pregnant wife came to defend him. She was beaten as well and left for dead, but by God’s grace she survived. But her husband was killed.
And yet we can be embarrassed to witness for Christ to our own family members or neighbors. And we think we know what living for Christ is all about because we know so much.
I pray that God will help each of us to think straight about our spiritual lives. Let’s take time to ask ourselves:
- Are we faithful servants and stewards? Are we rowing to our own beat, wanting things our own way, or are we living in perfect sync with every command of our Captain Jesus Christ?
- Are we judging others unjustly – particularly our spiritual leaders that we prayed for so fervently? Are we judging on the basis of our personal opinions and preferences, or on the basis of the Word of God alone?
- We may work so hard to look good on the outside, but what’s on the inside? What sins are festering in our hearts? And what’s it going to take for us to let God clean house in our lives?
- Are we living lives of Christian service that are self-sacrificing, following Christ no matter what the cost?
- Are we willing to imitate the life of Paul?
- Can we say to others, “Imitate me”?