We all like independence. But would you follow someone if you knew your life depended on it? I think I would! And that is right where Baby Goat is. We have a short nature video today that will help you appreciate how critical it can be to follow.
Precarious treading! It is a lesson FULL of lessons. It’s all about following.
So easy if you do it right? Not necessarily. Think about how very near danger is. One slip can take you down. All the way down. Down to your death.
Life can be rough, demanding. There are raging rivers, wide gullies, deep chasms and countless risks. Every individual must go through every lesson to get the strength, the knowledge, and the experience needed to survive.
Following the right example makes it possible. Yes, it CAN be done.
This is the precise message God gave us by sending Jesus to be our example. One well known minister scoffed at the idea of Jesus being His example. He didn’t need an example, he wanted a dying Savior.
But God provided the EXAMPLE. A Christ we can copy and follow.
Christ said so often, “Follow me.”
Luke 9:2323Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
But we don’t hear the “follow me” directly. We hear it best when it comes to us second-handed, from a Christ follower. Really? Yes. This is what Paul showed his brethren. YOU be the example, he said, YOU follow Christ, and then let others follow YOU.
Really? Can it be? Yes. You be careless about YOUR following of Christ, YOUR copying, and others may be lost in the wilderness.
Look at Paul. First, Paul was in the role of PARENT for the believers in his churches. This is what he wrote to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 4:15 15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Can we imagine how those “dear children” treasured the brief times they had with their beloved father-in-the-faith?
When he came to visit them, he came not with pride but as a role model for them to follow.
1 Corinthians 11:1–3 1Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Paul said, you copy me, just as I copy Christ.
2Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.
Paul said, Remember me and follow what I taught you. But..
3But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ…
Remember, in following me, he said—copying me—you are copying CHRIST. Christ is the head. Out front.
Paul was teaching them to use their God-given tools. Like the young goat learning to climb, this would get them safely off the first rock-ledge and on to the next, higher and higher. Yes, it is the same process by which baby goat learned to climb.
This comes home to me: Am I ready to say, “Follow ME…Step where I step… Follow me as I follow Christ”?
After he had visited the Thessalonians, how did he recap his visit?
1 Thessalonians 1:5–6 5For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
Oh the wonder-power of a good example to keep us climbing! These brethren were watching his conduct to learn the HOW of Christian living, to see “what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” It was intentional example. Paul continues in 1 Thess. 1:
6And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
Yes, there was suffering, affliction, but also JOY.
2 Thessalonians 3:7,9 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 9… to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
Paul said it again and again. This to young Timothy early on:
1 Timothy 4:12 12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
And to the Romans:
Romans 15:2 2Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.
Notice he included himself: “Let each of US…” It was all about following in the right way. How different from those Jesus warned His followers against;
Matthew 23:3 3Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
And it didn’t stop in Thessalonica. Paul said it to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:17 17Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
In this very familiar text, Paul says it precisely: we learn by what we receive and hear and see when we DO it!
Philippians 4:9 9The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
The author of Hebrews—perhaps it was Paul?—told them to be followers. First it was his desire for them.
Hebrews 6:11–12 11And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
He said it again about their former leaders: to “observe their pattern of a life well lived, and imitate their faith.”
Hebrews 13:7 7Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
James encouraged his people to look at the prophets for an example. What would they learn there? Courage, faith, patience, endurance, and a whole lot more!
James 5:10 10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
1 Peter 2:21
Peter said it once. Powerfully. Follow CHRIST.
21For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
John advised watching for the really good examples—which tells us there would be those NOT good!
3 John 11 11Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
Be careful you are not like the shop instructor Brother Gerald had in high school.
The shop instructor was teaching us how NOT to use a jointer/planer. He shaved off the tip of his finger, definitely not intended. While the students got the lesson––one never to forget—the instructor lost credit as a good example. He was like the Scribes and Pharisees who tell but do not do.
After that, he never again showed us how NOT to do it, but he would say it and hold up his finger for us to SEE—we got the lesson sharp and clear!
Jesus provided the perfect example for us to follow, example of His Father. He could say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
While He isnot here among us to show us the way, we do have His words to instruct us and accurate accounts of successful followers.
Right among us we have good examples to follow. Let us all work together, keeping each other stirred up to good works. What example are we giving to one another? Let us remember, others may be looking to US for an example. Brother Nichols said, Paul followed Christ, I follow Paul.” And now—we follow him.
A serious responsibility. Can you say, “Follow me”?
This was the Psalmist prayer. Let it be ours also:
Revelation 119:3333Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, THAT I MAY FOLLOW it to the end.