Who Do We Imitate?

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs

from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

(Matt 7:16-17)

Someone speaking quite a long time ago gave me a pretty good piece of advice concerning employment: “Prepare for the job that you want, not the job that you have.” The concept seemed pretty simple, actually; if you want to succeed in the business world, spend time in preparation for a promotion. Ask those around you in higher positions what skills they needed in order to achieve their current positions, and spend time imitating those things they have done in order to be successful. Any good boss wants every employee to be successful in their position.


Four times in the New Testament the word “imitate” is used. We are familiar with this term in the secular world. We imitate those who are successful in various areas of life. Notice what Paul says: “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). The word “imitate” literally means to “become”, or “be like” me.  Paul also uses this word in saying “therefore I urge you, imitate me” (1 Cor 4:16). The Hebrew writer said, “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:8).  John closes this thought out by saying, “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 11).


Think of the word “imitate” in our lives today. Could we say “imitate me” in describing to others our lives? Could we say as Paul, “be like me, as I am like Christ,” to literally tell others if you follow my path I you will be like Christ? Could we urge others to really and truly “become like me” as Paul said? Our example to so many around us is one of the most important things we carry. I once heard someone say that “a sermon lived is better than a thousand sermons preached”. People see us every day, and it is likely that someone sees those things we are doing. It is our responsibility to ensure that our example is such that, if someone follows it, they will have a heavenly home. The Hebrew is clear: we should “imitate” those who “through faith and patience inherit the promises”. We should desire to be like those who will be in Heaven because of their faithfulness to God. We must be in a position that if others imitate our faithfulness to God, they will also spend eternity in Heaven.


To our young people, know that there are many good examples to imitate of others. John is clear in telling us to “imitate that which is good”. However, take special care to imitate those who will help you get to Heaven, and take special care to be the example for others so that if they “become” like you, they will also be in Heaven.

Ande Z



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