Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Who are you following?

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

15th May 2011

In Paul’s letters he often tells us not only to understand and follow what he teaches, but to imitate him.

For example he says in Philippians 3:17

‘Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do’.

Not only does Paul instruct believers to imitate him; he has been building up a group of leaders who exemplify the pattern of life he has been teaching, so that they can serve as models for others to follow.

Almost certainly one of the reasons why Paul provides so many details about Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:19–30) is so that they may serve as models to be admired and emulated.

Paul says of Timothy,

‘I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel’. (V20-22)

He expects us, his readers, to resolve to become like Timothy.

Paul is even more explicit with respect to Epaphroditus. After detailing the man’s Christian courage, he adds,

‘So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me’. (V.29-30)

Paul says; don’t only honour him, but people like him.

Paul taught patterns of life that should be admired and imitated.

His suggestion that the Philippians imitate Timothy and Epaphroditus, and his instructions that they follow his own example and pattern of living, is offered in part as an antidote to the alternative models that surround us.

The assumption is that we inevitably imitate someone, and unfortunately there is always an abundant supply of bad models.

Paul warns against,

‘…those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh’. (Philippians 3:2)

These were those who were trying to impose observance of Jewish rules and regulations from the Old Covenant.

Doubtless they appeared wonderfully pious.

Paul also warns against those who,

‘…live as enemies of the cross of Christ’ (V.18)

Those who, judging by the context, are almost certainly professing Christians who do not really grasp what the Gospel is about and who do not really live with eternity’s values in view.

They too must have had some plausibility, or Paul would not have warned against them.

As Christians we must be intentional in choosing whom we should imitate, or else we may drift toward poor models.

By saying that the Philippians follow his example is not a display of self-righteousness on Paul’s part, because he acknowledges that he himself has not arrived, but is still on a pilgrimage. See 3:7-16 but particularly verse 12:

‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me’.

So follow someone who follows Christ; follow a pilgrim who insists that you live up to what you have already attained, and then press for more.

Have a good week following those who follow Jesus.

Pastor Barry

Back to top