|Volume 22 Number 11 November 2020||
The Example We Set
“Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Influence is something we exert all the time, whether we realize it or not. The words we speak and the lives we live reflect who we are and our value system in action on display for others to observe. Depending on your relationship with others, the example your influence shows may be imitated by others, such as friends or family. Especially young children are very impressionable and open to input in shaping their morals and ideals. This is perhaps realized no better than when we reach adulthood and say something that was repeated to us many times by our parents, and remark, “I’ve become my mother (or father)!”
Certainly not every behavior is attributable to the influence of someone’s example, as each person is a unique individual and will grow up to make his or her own choices about how to live life. However, one’s example, whether for good or bad, can and often does factor into the process of shaping the lives of others. I remember a police officer relating a story to me, having taken a juvenile home for breaking and entering, only to have the child’s parent lecture the officer and then tell the child he didn’t have to do anything the officer said. Should we wonder where that child had learned criminal behavior was acceptable?
The same principle applies spiritually as well. Statistics indicate that children whose parents attend all services faithfully and who are involved in the work of the church are more likely to be faithful themselves. Conversely, those parents who attend only once in a while and are not involved in the work of the church will find their children less motivated to be faithful in their own lives as adults. How many stories could be related of uninvolved parents or parents who allowed physical pursuits to always take precedent over the spiritual where their children drifted away and have no interest in the church as adults? Certainly, even parents who do their best to live faithful lives and so instruct their children to do the same will be challenged by the influence of the world in which we live. Yet, what are the percentages for these young people when their parents and other influential examples in their lives are not faithful to the assembly, to the work of the church and to Christian living in the home?
How easy it is to shake one’s head at the way things are but refuse to look at one’s own influence and example. If you show no respect, you shouldn’t be surprised when those around are disrespectful. If you show no love, don’t be surprised when others are unloving. If you reject the authority of others, don’t be dumbfounded when others reject your authority regarding them. If you aren’t an obedient child of God, don’t blame others until you have first looked at yourself. Most psychologists affirm it is difficult for children to rise above their parents, as the power of their example works to help shape their lives.
As a young man, Timothy in the above Scripture was encouraged by Paul to set a proper example to others, as well he should. How about those who are older in the faith? Paul urged Titus to remind older men and women to be positive in their relations with others (Titus 2:2-3). We cannot imbibe the spirit of the world and expect those who see us to learn anything different. While words of encouragement are important, lives of encouragement are just as important. John reminds us, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). What is the heritage our lives will leave for those following us? Just what kind of example do you set?
Gary C. Hampton
Researchers report they have found what may be liquid on Mars, according to an article on the website for Popular Science. I have rarely read an article filled with so many mights and maybes. It is obvious they are desperate to find the possibility of life on another planet.
Their time could be much better spent looking for God and His will for their lives. These well-educated men seem to be following the path of the Gentiles’ in their downward spiral into the depths of sin.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21)
Scientists and researchers who work so hard to find evidence of life on another planet overlook the truth right before their eyes — God exists! The Psalmist sang, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (19:1). “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). God created the universe with such precision that men can calculate the exact day, hour and minute of the next lunar or solar eclipse. Halley’s Comet has an orbital path that brings it within view of the earth every seventy-five years, with the next appearance expected in 2061.
It is no wonder that the singer of Israel wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Psalm 14:1-2). May all open their eyes to the design all around us and seek the will of the Designer.