Proverbs 8:33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
The Apostle Paul said, "Imitate me." 1 Cor. 4:16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. The early Christians did not have the full New Testament at the ready to find out the way to deal with different situations in life. Some of the assemblies and gatherings of like-minded Christians had a letter or two from the Apostle Paul. Other Apostles like Peter, James, and John had written God-inspired epistles by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. However, no one had the complete collection of writings as we have today.
What did Paul have in his heart to be able to say with confidence? "Imitate me." 1 Cor. 11:1 You are to imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. That was the key. Paul was saying, just as I imitate Christ, imitate what you see me being and doing as a result of Christ living through me. Paul said that once Christ becomes the Lord of our life, we will be read and scrutinized by the world. 2 Cor. 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 you show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Would you have the confidence in Christ to boldly say to someone, "Imitate me, because I imitate Christ." Wow! What a responsibility we have as living epistles and letters of God that express His love for all of mankind. What are the people reading in us when they are looking for answers to life? Do as I say and not as I do, does not work here.
Imitate me as I walk in Christ, is imitating what I say and do. Of course, we are fallible people. When we fall, do those who are reading us see us repent, get up, and go forward in Christ? Do they see us making up excuses, shifting the blame, and shrinking back from our accountability to God and each other? I hope they see Christ at work within us doing what the Lord has instructed us to do in His name.
Our heart and confidence in the Lord should be a declaration that gently says, "Trust in the Lord, and listen to His instructions as you see me following Him with all my heart." Prov. 8:33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. We are not talking about comparing ourselves with others, but rather sharpening and encouraging each other in the admonition of the love and power of God in order to be epistles that can be read clearly, as we point to Christ. Prov. 27:17 Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
As I get older, I have found it important to teach, direct, and give away everything I know about my Lord Jesus to the next generation. I am not trying to create clones of myself, but rather help develop the calling and gifting that is in every individual God has created. Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
The thoughts and intent of God's heart toward everyone is that none of us should perish, or be eternally lost. 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. God has made a way for all mankind to come to Him through Christ. We who walk in Christ are His hand extended and read of men. May we remember this awesome responsibility the next time we open the pages of our heart to allow a lost and hurting world to read of God's grace that is available to them. What will be read from your living epistle? Blessings to you in Jesus name!