A young mother was talking about her responsibility for the lives God had given her to teach, train and mold. Her point was, don’t just concentrate on doing the dishes and making sure the house is clean and tidy. While those things are necessary, they are not what matters most. What matters is finding those teachable, spiritual moments when you can SHOW the real meaning of what you believe. “No one can teach your children about God the way you can.”
It isn’t just true for moms, it is true for EACH ONE of us.
We are all teachers. We are all models, and whether we think about it or not, we are modeling life lessons all the time. None of us live to ourselves. What did Paul say?
Romans 14:7–8 7For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
None of us live to ourselves. We are responsible for each other.
Not that we must answer for each other, but we all have “others” in our lives to whom we are showing life lessons. It may be subconscious, but we are all examples. And we see others as examples also.
Paul was very conscious of this part of his ministry. He was not just talking the gospel, he was modeling it. What did he write to the Thessalonians?
1 Thessalonians 2:10 10You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;
It was about their behavior while they visited these believers: being “devout,” and “just,” and blameless. And “they” were Paul, and Silvanus and Timothy. Those believers in Thessalonica were seeing the gospel in action, and it stood out. How did the gospel come to them? As visible life lessons. Paul says,
1 Thessalonians 1:5–9 (REB) 5because when we brought you the gospel we did not bring it in mere words but in the power of the Holy Spirit and with strong conviction. You know what we were like for your sake when we were with you.
It didn’t stop with Paul and company either. Paul says more:
6You, in turn, followed the example set by us and by the Lord; the welcome you gave the message meant grave suffering for you, yet you rejoiced in the Holy Spirit; 7and so you have become a model for all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
How many benefited from the shining example of Christ-like character that Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy modeled to those believers. It spoke a powerful message to those even beyond the believers they were visiting! Paul says,
8From you the word of the Lord rang out; and not in Macedonia and Achaia alone, but everywhere your faith in God has become common knowledge. No words of ours are needed; 9everyone is spreading the story of our visit to you: how you turned from idols to be servants of the true and living God,
That is what the gospel is all about: turning. The example they saw in Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy was the power behind their turning. “How you turned from idols to be servants of the true and living God.”
Visual life lessons! Powerful enough to TURN those who saw it. Isn’t that what what the apostles saw in Jesus?
John 1:14 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John says, we saw it! The LIVING WORD in real flesh-and-blood. And being modeled by Jesus, it was even more: it was the glowing beauty of a perfect life!
14And … we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Paul was able to write about his own example to the Philippians:
Philippians 4:9 9Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
It wasn’t “do as I say but not as I do.” But “those things”—he included it all—the things he wrote, and talked about, and they heard and saw. And it all comes down to the life lessons Paul modeled every day, wherever he went.
We can imagine when Paul visited the various churches that they had questions: Why this? How that?
Paul had lessons to SHOW as they talked and worked with one another.
And he had more—and deeper lessons—to give the Philippian brethren. It is recorded in Philippians 1. It was more than he would have expected.
Philippians 1:12–14 12But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
But there were enemies also. Apparently the brethren had warned him about some who opposed Paul, for whatever reason. Paul comments:
Philippians 1:15-17 15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
Does it matter? Not really, says Paul.
What? Can we imagine “modeling” such a life lesson? No sign of enmity, or jealousy, or revenge against these “unChristian” brethren, but only gratitude that the gospel is being preached!
Philippians 1:18-19 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. 19For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Paul had one mission: to preach the gospel! And he assured the concerned brethren that it would all work out for good, even for himself personally!
Philippians 1:20–24 20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
What complete dedication! And what modeling of life lessons that would have stopped most people. But not Paul!
Paul also talked about modeling life lessons to the Corinthians. They were needing a number of lessons, and Paul was modeling—for them and for us.
Let’s look at 1 Cor. 3.
1 Corinthians 3:1–3 1And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
Sounds like they needed to see the basics of Christ-like living! It wasn’t about competition!
2I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
Early lessons had not been enough. They needed more, because they were still carnal – unspiritual – behaving like “ordinary men” as the Moffatt Bible phrases it. The envy and strife and divisions needed to be put away.
Instead of setting one Christian leader against another, Paul said, they should be seeing all of them as working together. He explains their different ministries:
1 Corinthians 3:4–6 4For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
A life lesson for sure! Each was doing his God-assigned duty. No excuse for any rivalry at all!
What did Jesus say about His own life lesson among the apostles?
Luke 22:27 27For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
Jesus was among them as “the One who serves”—a powerful life lesson from the greatest one among them!
So many examples of life lessons! Think about it today, and see if you can add your own.
It is all about MODELING the Word, every day, all day.
BEING models to one another. It is a sure way of helping others toward the Kingdom!