Join in Imitating Me

June 4, 2017
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Abraham Hong

One of the hardest things there is to being a pastor is seeing people walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. There are people in the world who do not repent of their sins and have faith in Jesus’ righteousness. And there are people in church who turn away from the Lord. It is a sad and sobering reality. It is especially heart-breaking to see students in youth group who seem so promising and so set on the path of Christ grow up and choose wrong ends, worship wrong gods, and look forward to wrong glories.

Paul wrote to the Philippian church with this same sobering reality in his heart. He even said that he wrote this letter with tears. There are only two ways to live. Be an enemy of the cross of Christ. Or be a friend. Many people in Paul’s life chose wrongly. And so their end was destruction - a destruction of eternal punishment in hell. Their god was their belly - their carnal and unholy desires and passions controlled them. They gloried in their shame. And their minds were set on earthly things.

With these people in mind, Paul puts forth a simple but profound request to the church: do not be like them. Do not walk in their counsel. Do not stand in their ways or sit in their seats. Do not join in imitating them. Do not be like them.

Instead, be like Paul. And be like all the brothers and sisters in Christ who have pressed on then or are pressing on now toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Think like Abraham. Act like King David. Talk like Stephen. Be like everyone in Hebrews 11.

Now, we don’t imitate Paul or any of these people because they are amazing role models in and of themselves. They are clearly not. Paul admitted that he was far from perfect. Abraham and David make terrible mistakes in their lives. Our best parents and pastors are not righteous in and of themselves.

But we are still to follow Paul and Abraham and David and our parents and pastors and all the exemplary brother and sisters in Christ in terms of their orientation and aim. Don’t follow them because they are perfect. Follow them because of who they are following. Don’t imitate who they are per se. Imitate who they are becoming like. I’m talking about Jesus. Look at how Paul laid hold of Christ. Look at how he pressed on and worked out his salvation with fear and trembling. Look at how Christ lived in him. Look at Paul, and then join in imitating him.

This is a very important part of growing up as a Christian. The best way to mature spiritually and run well in this race of Christian life is to see other mature believers running well. And it is my humble opinion that who you hang around has a huge impact on the type of person that you will become. So surround yourselves with godly men and women in Christ. Keep your eyes on brothers and sisters who are walking in a mannner worthy of the gospel. Watch how they wait for Jesus. See how they spend their time and money. Observe how they take off the old and put on the new. Notice how they take handle conflict and stress. Behold what they truly love and what they truly live for. Watch how they die. And then run like them.