By Brooke Holt
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7
Let’s face it, we all imitate someone or often many people. I watch pickleball videos, because I want to imitate Anna Leigh Waters on the court. I long to learn how to think like she does while playing, to hit killer backhands, and to play with patience and precision.
The Apostle Paul sought to live his life after the pattern and practices of Jesus Christ. He did not do it perfectly but understood no better model for his life or the lives of those who would follow him existed. Paul did not just seek to emulate Jesus in the easy times but also through much adversity. Just prior to their visit in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel in the synagogue of Philippi. While there, they worshipped the Lord with prayers and singing. The Lord heard them and responded to their worship. While they were singing, a great earthquake occurred which shook the foundations of the prison and knocked the walls down (see Acts 16:25-26).
Paul understood hardship, persecution, and rejection. These trials did not deter Paul from following the commands of the Lord or walking in the way of Jesus. He persevered in faith and longed to teach God’s people to do the same thing, especially these new believers in Thessalonica. Paul commends them for receiving the word and then becoming imitators of him and of the Lord. Paul modeled a godly life before the church to give them an earthly perspective on how to live out their new faith. God’s work was evident among them, because they then became examples to those around them. Whole-hearted living makes an impact.
The question is who or what do you follow wholeheartedly? To answer this question, consider where you invest your time, thoughts, and attention. Whose lives do you study, watch, and emulate? Paul calls you to follow his lead as he followed Jesus’ lead. It is okay to learn from the pickleball champions (or whatever sport/hobby you enjoy) if they do not serve as your primary example for life. Jesus is the only one who is worthy of you wholeheartedly studying and imitating. As he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
The way of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, the life of Jesus – may his ways, his truth, and his life be your way, truth, and life.
Are you seeking to imitate Jesus in every aspect of your life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Christmas is the festival of rejoicing at Christ’s first coming—the beautiful, unlikely start of our salvation! As the season ends each year, we pack up the decorations. Advent, on the other hand, is a bigger celebration—one we can’t box up and store in the attic. It celebrates the grace of Christ’s first coming, and then it reaches with restless anticipation for the fuller grace of his second appearing and the completion of our salvation! For 28 days, celebrate Advent. In Prepare the Way, join with St. Paul, King David the Psalmist, Zechariah, Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist, along with the crowds as they rejoiced in the good news of Christmas, and then look beyond it for the holiday that never ends!
See all our Advent Devotionals/Studies here.
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