If someone were to follow your example, would they go to Heaven?
The question is not as far fetched as you might think. The fact of the matter is that we are always following or setting examples in the lives of other people. This is a good thing as long as the example is good.
Paul urged the Corinthians to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ” and to the Philippians he added “and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil 3:17) It wasn’t just Paul’s life but the life of those who followed Paul’s example that the Philippians were to follow.
I know someone who as a young child would imitate the song leader at home. He would sing songs and keep time with his hand just like John did. “I’m John!” he would say. When it came time to go to bed however, he refused (or tried to) insisting that “John doesn’t go to bed, I’m John.” Well, he was right….John never went to bed early or late….he worked a graveyard shift and so this young boy wanted to imitate John’s song leading AND bedtime habits.
Young children are known for being impressionable but they are not the only ones so our example in our life should always be one we want others to follow.
David shows both a bad and a good example in the sin with Bathsheba. While it is true that he admitted his sin when confronted (and that is the good thing), his example of sin was so bad that God’s name was blasphemed among the nations.
2 Samuel 12:14 MKJV Only, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, this child born to you shall surely die.
It is not that the enemies of God used His name with profanity but rather that they would speak less of the God of Israel because David, the king of God’s people, had done such a horrible act. Because of that, they were less likely to honor God.
Peter urges Christians to leave the ways of the world behind. This leaving of the ways of the world would be so noticeable that the non believers would take note.
1 Peter 4:3-4 ESV For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (4) With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
Earlier he had said:
1 Peter 2:12 ESV Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
And to the wives of non believers he says:
1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, (2) when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
We can not be sure that if we live a good life before God and show the unbeliever (and believer alike) the proper way to serve God that they will follow our example and go to Heaven. However, we can be sure that if they do not see a good example, that they will not know the way.
So again, I ask the question: If someone followed your example, would they go to Heaven?
Last Sunday, the sermon presented continued in the book of Philippians chapter 2 with the example of two individuals who are worthy for us to follow in their footsteps: Timothy and Epaphroditus.You can listen to the sermon here.
In Timothy’s case, his is a behavior of service. Imagine being spoken of the way Paul spoke about Timothy.
Php 2:19-21 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
What an endorsement! I don’t know about you but when I read that, I want to stand up and shout: “I want to be like Timothy!”
Where do your affections lie? Are they divided between Christ and the world?
In the case of Epaphroditus, here was a Christian who had come from Philippi to bring support to Paul and who stayed to help Paul with what was still lacking! Even to the point that he nearly died.
Php 2:25-30 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, (26) for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. (27) Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (28) I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. (29) So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, (30) for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Here was a man who would be willing to be spent in service to God. Sometimes we will put aside our health for an important thing but Epaphroditus chose to risk his life for the most worthy thing possible: the preaching of the Gospel.
What other things would consider important enough to risk your life for?