I hear statements like that all the time. “It doesn’t matter what I say or do.” “What I am doing is my business, what others think is their problem.” “No one is watching me.” Really? 1 Corinthians 8:9, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
The truth is someone is watching you. What they see in you influences them in what they think as well as what they do. What we say and do as disciples matters! And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1-2). Ultimately, it is not enough to be right, others must think rightly about us. This is one reason setting a positive example is vital. We should to the best of our ability lives so that those around me have no need to call my motives into question. (cf. 1 Peter 2:12).
Here are three observations about examples:
- Examples are Powerful Agents of Change. Children learn behaviors and attitudes from the example their parents set. Teens often model their style after their peers. Paul tells Titus, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8).
- Examples Motivate. We all get discouraged and wonder if we will survive. Yet, when we look at those around us who are living faithfully we see in them areas we can emulate. Paul tells the Thessalonians, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
- Exemplary Lives Bring Credibility. Do other Christians respect me? Do they see my walk with God as a reality? Do they know I believe what I say by the way I live what I proclaim? Remember these words: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. . . . Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16). Our actions preach what we practice, no matter what we proclaim with our lips.
The truth is simple. You are a role model to someone. You do set an example. The question is, what example do you set? Does your daily life lead people toward or away from Christ?