Text: 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 October 28, 2012
1) An example in a seminary: David was a seminary student in Hong Kong. He was a good student in more than making good grades but also in good manner with faculty and fellow students all the time. Particularly he learned from the examples of life a teacher: Prof. Hsu. David imitated the way Hsu walked, talked and the briefcase and umbrella Hsu brought with him rain or shine. Prof. Hsu was good more than his knowledge in the subject he taught, Comparative Theology, he was also very good in almost everything in life: humble, easy going, kind and nice to everyone, patient and had good relationship with people. Many of us loved to be like him after we graduated and enter the real world to serve God and His people.
2) An example to the Corinthians: While the Corinthians had been endowed with many great gifts and resources, (1:5) the church was divided in many ways. They were also being worldly than being spiritual. (3:1-3) The church also was corrupted with sins like the unbelievers. (5:1-13) The church was also involved in lawsuits against each other in the court of the world. (6:1-8) All they need is to follow the good example of the greatest apostle Paul. In writing to the people in this church, Paul told the people at the Corinthian church to learn from his example as he learned from the example of Christ. (11:1)
BAD EXAMPLES NOT TO FOLLOW:
1) Don¡¯t follow idol worshippers: ¡°My angels will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hevites and Jebusites and I will wipe them out. Do not bow down to their gods or worship them ...You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.¡± (Exodus 23:23-24) Idol worship was not only true in ancient Israel but also in modern-day society. We may not worship idols like the pagans do but many people, including Christians, still worship idols of fame, wealth, power, and popular culture. Many people still idolize famous schools, jobs like doctors, lawyers and moneymaking business. We also idolize high positions and big salaries. We teach our children to look up to these people, the modern day idols God forbid us to. When we have idols in our hearts, there is no room for God.
2) Don¡¯t follow evil practices: ¡°You must not follow what they do in Egypt where you used to live, and you must not follow what they do in Canaan where I am bringing you. Do not follow their (evil) practices.¡± (Leviticus 18:3) Following the examples and practices of people around us is a serious problem for Christians because we live among them. God warned the Israelis NOT to follow the evil practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites. But we still follow the evil practices of people today. We follow the goal of life of the ungodly. We follow their corrupted immoral ways of life. We follow secular culture on our values. We ignore the call of God to be separated from the evil practices. Do not follow evil practices of our classmates, coworkers or our neighbors and friends. We are God¡¯s children. We are different.
3) Don¡¯t follow evil examples: ¡°Jehoahaz, son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins Jeroboan, son of Nebat, which he had cause Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them.¡± (2 Kings 13:1-2) When Jeroboan became king of Israel, the north kingdom, he set up idol worship in Samaria to counter Judah¡¯s temple in Jerusalem. This is the sin mentioned here and was the cause of God¡¯s anger. Jeroboan did this to protect his power over the people but he disregarded the call of God to destroy idol worship. When Jehoahas became king later, he follow the evil example of Jeroboan, the former king. We live in a world full of evil examples. It is easy to fall into the pattern and practices of evil examples in our everyday life: in school, at work and in the society.
4) Don¡¯t follow greedy intent: ¡°They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam, son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.¡± (2 Peter 2:15, Num 22:4-20) Among all the prophets in the Old Testament, Balaam is the only one who had betrayed the sacred call of God for wicked wages. This is the cause of the most widely spread of sin, crime and wicked thing many people do today: bribery, corruption, cheating and many other schemes for money. Many have been put in prisons, others got disgraced ending of their career, future even ministry for the Lord because of greed for money.
FOLLOW THE GOOD EXAMPLES:
1) Abraham, father of faith: ¡°By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.¡± (Hebrews 11:8) For this reason, Abraham was honored with the title ¡°Father of Faith¡± by Christian theologians. Among all the Christian characters, faith is the most important, most difficult and most rewarding to our Christian walk each and everyday. There are over 500 listings of the word ¡°faith¡± (noun) and its verb form such as ¡°believe¡± in the Bible. Most of the problems we face as God¡¯s children stem from lack of faith.
2) Moses, faithful servant: ¡°But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.¡± (Num. 12:7) In a dispute between Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam, God was on the side of Moses. He gave his endorsement on Moses because he was faithful in all things of God¡¯s house (business). Moses was consistent in his faithful service to God in God¡¯s household and he received from God his rewards. Being faithful to God is never easy. Being faithful in all things at all times is beyond our human endeavor. But that is what God is looking for in our life. In the parable of the ¡°Talents¡± in Matt 25, the Master called his servant, ¡°good and faithful.¡± (25:21, 23) Good servants must be faithful in service in all God has delegated.
3) David, man after God¡¯s heart: ¡°But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people.¡± (1 Samuel 13:14) ¡°After God¡¯s heart¡± means ¡°follow God¡¯s heart.¡± How often we live our life or serve God follow God¡¯s heart or our own heart? To follow God¡¯s heart means we place God¡¯s will over our will; God¡¯s way above our way, and God¡¯s purpose not our purpose. David was not a perfect man, but he sought God¡¯s heart and will in most of his life. He is a great example for us to follow.
4) Paul, example of new life: ¡°We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we too may live a new life.¡± (Romans 6:4) This single verse of the Bible can be developed into a full sermon. This is the mindset of Paul as he lived his life for the Lord and the call he received. For those who are called believers of Christ, we all need to be crucified and buried our old nature with Christ, so our new life would be manifested through our everyday words and deeds. And the purpose of our life is to bring glory to our heavenly Father.
THE BEST EXAMPLE AT ALL TIME: (Phil 2:5-8)
1) The attitude of Christ: ¡°Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.¡± (2:5) ¡°Phroneite¡± in Greek is the ¡°mind¡± or ¡°to think.¡± In encouraging the Philippian Christians to be in unity in 2:1-4, Paul asked them to have the same attitude or to think the way Jesus Christ would think when they deal with each other or in making their decisions. How often do you think the way Jesus thinks in our life situation? How often we make decisions on our attitude and mindset? When Jesus described himself as ¡°humble and meek¡± (Matt 11:29), he intended for his followers to imitate his attitude in dealing with others.
2) The self-giving of Christ: ¡°Who, in being the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.¡± (2:6) Jesus ¡°being,¡± huparchon in Greek means ¡°exist¡± or ¡°is¡±. Jesus is God in nature, but he took on the nature less than God, human, in order to live, to work and to set examples among men. This is a picture of self-giving, sacrificing his deity to be a man to save mankind. Too many in the world fight to become someone or something they are not and wage wars to smear or beat down others. But Jesus gives up what he had so others may have what they don¡¯t have, salvation through faith.
3) The humility of Christ: ¡°But emptied himself, taking the nature of a servant in the form of a human.¡± (2;7) Christ decent from the majestic glory of God in heaven into this evil world, taking on the form of a human being (he is God always), and lived like a servant. What a drastic difference between these comparison in his life. ¡°Empty¡±, ekenosen, means become nothing like your empty pocket without any money. Jesus did not keep anything of his glory to this world. When he came, he came completely empty, nothing. Compare to many in this world, fight to get what belongs to others as theirs, putting honorary degrees as some real thing, and faking their resume with fake qualification.
4) The obedience of Christ: ¡°Being found in appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.¡± (2:8) Christ¡¯ obedience is to his Father. His death is the will of God. No one is able to take his life but his obedience to God made it happened. How many of us are obedient to God to the point of giving up our life? Jesus didn¡¯t die in honorable way but in the most humiliating way, on the cross. How much are we willing to pay to obey God¡¯s will in our life?
1) How much we imitate Christ? How much have we followed the examples of Christ and the great men in the Bible? How often do we follow bad examples of men in this world? Paul wanted the Philippians to imitate him as he had imitated Christ. We need to imitate Christ before anyone may imitate us.
2) Can anyone imitate you? Is there anything in your life you are proud of that you want others to imitate you? Make a list and try to add some more to make you a worthy example for others.