Paul as our Example

By Steven Chan

1. Growing up in the 1960s-1970s, one would have noted how our young friends imitated famous singers in their dressing such as “bell bottoms”, hairstyles, etc.  Generally, many like to follow those they admire or idolize. 

2. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1).  Paul followed Christ and he offered himself as an example what a Christian should be. 

3. Let’s consider the example of the apostle Paul so that we can imitate him as he imitates Christ. 

In the passage preceding 1 Cor 11:1, Paul wrote: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Cor 10:31-33)

4. Paul’s exhortation to all of us is that we need to ensure that ALL that we do brings glory to God. 

This covers all aspects of our lives – whether as students, teachers, professionals, parents, retirees, etc.  It covers ALL situations of life – when someone upsets you, when someone mistreats you, when someone took advantage of you, when an inconsiderate driver cuts into your lane, when someone hurts you, when someone disappoints you, as well as when you have accomplished some outstanding achievements, etc. 

Do we glorify God in how we conduct ourselves under ALL these circumstances? Consider what the Bible says.

a. Jesus taught: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

b. The apostle Peter exhorted Christians: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet 4:7-11)

c. When we seek to do everything such that it brings glory to God then of necessity, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17). Doing ALL (whether in what we say or write, or how we act or conduct ourselves) in the name of the Lord Jesus means that we are doing them by His authority and by our submission to Him and His instructions.

Many times, as one listens to “arguments” between brethren who profess their submission to Jesus as Lord and Master, one cannot help wondering what happened to their submission to the Will of God?

What happened to “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20)?  

The “I” appeared no longer “crucified” but very much unrestrained by the cross, demanding “vengeance” and acting like carnal/fleshly/worldly-minded  “mere men” –  exhibiting “envy, strife, and divisions” (1 Cor 3:3) – the beseeching (by Paul) “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2),  is no longer remembered, neither his exhortation to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:31-32).

5. The desire to save as many as possible (our family, friends and colleagues) should make us conduct our lives such that we do not offend or stumble others as we seek their profit in being saved from their sins.

a. Jesus declared: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). “​ “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” (Mark 1:38)

b. As we seek to imitate the example of Paul, let’s consider his example in the preaching of the gospel for the saving of souls: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! … For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more… I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you… Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.” (1 Cor 9:16-27).  Are we imitating Paul as he imitates Jesus in this work?

6. Who are we imitating today in our lives?  “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet 2:21-23). “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” (Heb 12:3-4). 

When we are provoked or ill-treated, do we remember what our Lord said as regards how we ought to conduct ourselves?  Let’s keep looking to “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).  Are we truly His disciples?