Ninth Sunday After Pentecost-What Kind of Example Are You?
A country Priest, nailing up a trailing vine, observed a boy watching him for a long time with obvious interest. "Well, my young friend," he said with a smile, "are you trying to get a hint or two on gardening?" "No," said the lad, "I'm just waiting to see what a Priest says when he hammers his thumb."
Although a humorous story there is an important lesson to remember. People are watching us. They looking to see what kind of example we will be.
In the first verse of our epistle reading for today, we read this statement:
Now these things were done in a figure (as an example) of us, that we should not covet or lust evil things as they also coveted or lusted. I Corinthians 10:6
This is vital for us to understand — especially as you are reading through the Old Testament. What we are reading is not just “history.” This is not merely the record of what happened to one group of people as they made their way through the desert to a Promised Land. “These things happened as examples for us.”
Verse 11 says a similar thing: “Now all these things happened to them in figure (as an example): and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come. .” These things were written for our correction and for our instruction. These things happened to THEM, but they were written FOR US, so that we would learn from them. So when ever you read, even the most obscure or odd-seeming passage from the Old Testament, ask yourself:
“What is God trying to teach me here? What has been written here “for my instruction”? There is something there for you every day.
Paul says in 10:6-10 that what is there for us, is a warning against sin.
After he says in vs 6, “Now these things were done in a figure (as an example) of us,” he then adds: “THAT" (this indicates the purpose) "THAT we should not covet or lust evil things as they also coveted or lusted.” So this is a warning against sin.
Now let us apply it to our own lives by asking ourselves a question. What kind of figure or example are we to those around us?
Saint Timothy was a young man in the church in Ephesus, and there were many older people in that church. So Paul tells him not to “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Timothy 4:12). A young person can feel intimidated by older people in his church. But Saint Paul urges Timothy not to allow them to intimidate him, but to be “an example of the faithful in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity.” This is in direct contrast to what Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1-4. “Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared, Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful, and by them that have known the truth.”
False Christians will merely tell you what they think is right and wrong, whereas true Christians will teach by example. False Christians will give you theories about how to live. True Christians will teach by their lives.
The Holy Spirit also inspired Saint Paul to say,"Follow me - as I follow Christ". And the Holy Spirit made him say that three times in 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippines 3:17)- to emphasize the fact that we should also follow the example of truly godly men who follow in Christ's footsteps.
A true Christian not only proclaims God's standard in the written Word, but also says, as Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Christ".
Some Christians say, "We must not follow any man. We must only follow Jesus". That sounds like a spiritual statement. But it is totally contrary to the Word of God. Because, as we have just seen, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) told us to follow him.
Let me give you seven tests by which you can evaluate whether we are a truly godly person worthy of being followed:
1. Are you a humble person - easily approachable and easy to speak to? Jesus told us to learn humility from Him. “Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls." (Matthew11:29). A godly man is one who has learned humility from Jesus.
2. Are you free from the love of money? A godly man will follow Jesus' example, He was one who trusted that His father would take care of all his needs. Jesus said that one who loves God cannot love money and that one who holds on to God will despise money. “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13).
3. Are you pure in your life? - and especially in your dealings with your attraction toward the opposite sex? A godly person will not just avoid the temptation to sexual lust but will flee from it. (2 Timothy 2:20-22).
4. If you are married and have children, have you brought up your children in godly ways? A godly, married person will be one whose children are believers who have been brought up in a disciplined way (1 Timothy 3:4,5; Titus 1:6).
5. Have those who are closest to you become godly through their association with you? Godly people will produce other godly people. Timothy became a godly man through being with his spiritual father, Paul (Philippians 2:19-22).
6. Have you helped built (or been active with others in building up) the Church by ministering in your local Parish? Jesus came to earth to build His Church “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). He gave Himself up to death to build the Church. “Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it:” (Ephesians 5:25). Godly people will not only bring people to Christ but will then help Catechize them.
7. Do you connect people to Christ and not to yourself? A godly person will connect others to Christ, so that they in turn, can become a godly example for others? “But doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in him who is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:15) “For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
We cannot follow most Christian, because they fail in one or more of the above areas.
If however, you find a godly Christian who has the above qualities, it will be good for you to follow him, because he will help you to come closer to the Lord.
Saint Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.”
“Now these things were done in a figure (as an example) of us, that we should not covet or lust evil things as they also coveted or lusted.”
And Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.”
In what way are you example to others? Are you a Godly example in all areas of your life? Or are there areas in your life that are bad examples to others?
You that have an ear let him hear.