As little children, we learn from imitating those around us. Kids have special people, who love them and are extra special in their lives. Their attitudes and behaviors might be positive or negative, but either way they have an impression on the child and they will imitate it.
Jesus is love. Believers should imitate his attitudes and behaviors. He is kind, gentle, understanding, and forgiving. We need to mirror these characteristics. He never forced us to accept him or his ways. He never condemned others. He spoke the truth in love and allowed the hearer the right to say no.
Remember the young man who wanted eternal life?
Matthew 19:16-22 (KJV)
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
I believe, it wasn’t being a rich man that hindered this person…not directly. Throughout Jesus’s walk on earth, he met many rich men and I know some received Jesus and eternal life. What was the difference here? Again I believe, this person would not imitate Jesus. He wouldn’t give of his riches to help the suffering, those in need. His ‘things’ were more important than walking in Jesus’s foot-steps. His heart was focused on the world and not on eternity.
When we first believe in Jesus everything is new…we come as a child. We have a new heart and possibilities stretch before us. For me, Jesus is the one I choose to imitate. I do my best to imitate Jesus Christ and allow him to guide me in all things. Sadly, I don’t always do a great job. There are times when the world around intrudes or I allow part of my old nature to take over.
Side note for new believers: just because you now live for Jesus and have a new life (a new nature) in Christ, it doesn’t mean everything in your old life just goes away. You may still struggle with old habits, mannerisms, and potty talk. What it does mean, you can change. It may take time, for some of us, a lifetime. But all things can become new. You have to want change and how much you imitate Jesus will make the difference.
Our ability to let go of the past and walk forward in the newness of life will make another difference. We can’t change our prior actions and words, we can only ask forgiveness and move on. As we begin to imitate our Lord Jesus, others will see changes in us. We can’t change our family or friends. Our excitement about Jesus and his love can bubble out of us and we want others to feel it too. We have changed, we now know Jesus, but they must come to Jesus on their own. We cannot push or prod to hard or we might push they away from us and Jesus. We have to be careful not to put others around us down because they too have not come to our Lord. Your strength in Christ, your imitation of his goodness, must be humble and loving. The strongest believers I know are those who walk humbly with Jesus and say very little about their faith unless someone asks.
Take time in the days ahead to examine your life. Are you imitating Jesus? Are you a light in this dark world to those around you? I encourage you to allow the light of Jesus, shining in your heart, to broadcast his love so others may see and step closer to our Lord.