Being a Good Example

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Being a Good Example

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As Christians, we are taught to be lights to the world. Scripture reads, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). We hear the words, we know what they mean, but do we really consider how much of an impact they have? How we act—our example is very important to God. Why? Because we are examples of who God is, what His character is like.

It takes effort to change who we are and it is almost impossible when we refuse to separate ourselves from bad influences.

When we consider the examples Christ set for us, we should understand we are to emulate that behavior. We are to mirror His goodness, forgiveness and love towards all people. It is not always easy to do, but it is what God wants from us. We are God’s children and meant to stand apart from the world. Matthew 13:49 Matthew 13:49So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
American King James Version×
states that at the end of the age the angels will “separate the wicked from among the just.” The just will have lived as God commanded and have been a good example to those around them. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 2 Corinthians 5:20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.
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, English Standard Version).

Have you ever been around someone who professes to be a Christian, but then goes about doing things that do not appear Christian at all? Maybe they use God’s name in vain or use profane language. Maybe they are superstitious, spread malicious gossip or are mean and cruel to others. When someone professes their love for God and Christ and then acts foolishly, it reflects poorly on God and His people. How can we be lights to the people of the world when we are living this way? We cannot. “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16 Titus 1:16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
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).

We are told to live differently. To be incorruptible, reverent, loving, temperate, etc. (Titus 2:1-8 Titus 2:1-8 1 But speak you the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing soundness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
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). It is also true that if we are living as good examples, but spend all our time with those who are corrupt, we will eventually fall into trouble (1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
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). God understands that people tend to act and do as those around them, which is why He warns us to avoid such relationships. Think about it. That’s how traditions start, how languages develop and why we tend to use the same gestures and words our closest friends and family use. It comes upon us slowly and sometimes even surprises us when we do or say something out of character.

It takes effort to change who we are and it is almost impossible when we refuse to separate ourselves from bad influences. “Beloved, 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” (3 John 1:11 3 John 1:11Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that does good is of God: but he that does evil has not seen God.
American King James Version×
). Paul reminds us to not “let our good be spoken of as evil” (Romans 14:16 Romans 14:16Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
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). This can happen when we slip up in what we say and do. Others often look for bad in us. If we go along doing well in their eyes and then stumble by speaking evil of another, or swearing when they have never heard us do so, or do anything uncomely in front of them, they often erase all the good we have done and focus on that one bad thing. That is why it is so important to make changes that change who we are internally.

Knowing this, we must be even more aware of how we treat others who are not close to us or that do good towards us. Are we being a good example to all? (Luke 6:33 Luke 6:33And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.
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). It needs to come naturally for us. We must internalize the behavior and be genuine in it (Psalms 37:27 Psalms 37:27Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for ever more.
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). If we don’t, people will see right through our deception. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
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). It has to become part of our nature.

Of course, none of us are perfect. But we are to continually strive to be so (Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
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). It is a learning process. Psalms 18:32 Psalms 18:32It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.
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tells us it is God who gives us the strength to get there. And Galatians 3:3 Galatians 3:3Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?
American King James Version×
tells us we are being made perfect by the Holy Spirit. Without God’s help, we could never master it, but the intention to do so must begin with us. We must take the first steps to be all that God would have us to be if we want to be a part of the glorious future He has planned for us. Being a good example to others seems little to ask.