Being an example requires one – but one – basic prerequisite: an example must be seen, personal and close-up.
In Philippians 3:17, Paul writes, “Brethren, join in my following my example…” When used in this context, “example” (Gk. tupos) assumes that others can see what they are to follow. In its basic sense, tupos mean “the mark of a stroke or blow, a figure formed by a blow or impression of a figure or image.”
Before the advent of computers, we used typewriters of ingenious design: First, a blank piece of paper is fastened onto a roller; then, when a key has pressed a lever attached to it swings another lever called a type hammers up toward the paper; just as the type is about to hit the page, a spool of inked cloth called a ribbon lifts and sandwiches itself between the type and the paper, thus enabling the type to make a printed impression as it hits the page. Ah hah! One who sets an example strikes a blank life, making a lasting impression with the ink of his soul.
Our type must, therefore, be suitable for the lives we influence.
Naturally, a typewriter does not affect unless it can strike a piece of paper. If no paper is placed within the machine, it makes no example. The typewriter might be a beautiful and well-working piece of engineering, but if it sits idly by, it fails to perform the function for which it was made.
Brethren, we have two duties: follow good examples and be good examples. But, if we are not with people, we cannot be examples. In these days of social distancing, who do we follow and upon whom can we make an impression? Here are a few ideas to consider.
Be an example to your children (Prov 23:26-28). As we are spending more time with our kids than usual, they are looking to and learning from us like never before. What are our priorities and values? How does our relationship to God come through in our attitudes and actions toward them and other members of our family? Parents, when we rise to a new morning of God’s sunshine, it is time for us to make an impression upon the lives we raise to follow us.
Set an example of time management (Eph 5:15-16). Parents of school-age children have been forced to schedule their children’s learning. Life for many of us has changed dramatically and when schools will reopen is uncertain. It is not even decided, as yet, how they will reopen and, I assure you, that no one – neither student nor teacher – feels as though he is enjoying an extended vacation. How we discipline our usage of time is a life skill to which the word of God calls believers.
I encourage you to start each day with God and let him set your day timer. The apostle Paul was a great manager of time. For when he was in prison (his version of stay-at-home orders), he received visitors and wrote letters, socially distant as far as his chains would allow. What’s more, if the apostle had access to the internet, he would have used it as a means of getting out the word.
Proclaim as you have the opportunity (Col 4:5-6). I recently called Frontier Communications about a phone service issue. While technical assistance was handling the issue, the capable representative and I waited over the awful silence. Finally, I broke in with some questions about his life. Turns out, he was talking to me from his home in Virginia. His father immigrated to the states from Nigeria, but he was born in the United States and loved America.
We learned of many things we shared in common, especially our trust in God during this weird time. I eagerly shared some key verses from the Scripture, which he received with joy and I ended our conversation with a prayer for him and his family. That is but one example of the many ways we can turn this quarantine thing into a means to speak to others about Christ.
The members of our church long to be together again, worshipping in the holiness of Christian embrace and mutual admiration for the savior who touched us with the grace of salvation. Until then, Christians can make the most of the time, setting an example and making that important impression upon those they love and those they meet.
Scriptures to Memorize: Hebrews 10:24-25
Pastor Michael Chandler serves Victor Valley Bible Church, 16439 Hughes Road, Victorville. Services are on Sundays at 10:15 a.m.. For more information, visit www.VictorValleyBibleChurch.org, follow us on Facebook, call 760-243-7690, or email the pastor at email@example.com.