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Very few of us realize how many people are watching what we do. But people are watching, and we should set a godly example for those around us. As Edward Hyde once wrote, "No man is so insignificant as to be sure that his example can do no harm." This week, let's think about our need to do and say things that would make a worthy example for others to follow.
We don't have to be perfect to provide a helpful pattern for those around us. We just have to provide a model of living that lifts others up and doesn't pull them down. One part of a good example is the willingness to correct our mistakes when we become aware that our conduct has not been worthy of imitation. Absolute sinlessness is not the kind of consistency others expect of us. They will get that only from the Lord. What they do need from us is very practical and possible, even in a fallen world: a consistent willingness to admit our blunders and correct them.
In a way, we owe others a godly example. To set the right pattern is the least we can do for them. There is no shortage of folks who will set the wrong example. That will be done no matter what our own actions are. But if we don't set the right example, our friends and neighbors may not get it anywhere else. Doesn't everybody deserve to have at least one person doing the right thing before them? Is it fair when we deprive our friends of what may be the only godly example they have a chance to be exposed to? It's something to think about.
Throughout this week, let's be mindful of our example and look for ways to improve it. If necessary, let's bend over backward not only to do what is strictly and legally right, but also to go beyond that and choose the very best among the alternatives that are permissible. Being "example conscious" will prompt us to go the extra mile to make sure that others are seeing an unmistakable, unequivocal example of godliness in our lives. Of course, this will mean having to do some inconvenient things -- and it will mean leaving off some things we might like to enjoy if we were the only people in the world. But we're not alone in this world. Others are watching. And that's why Jesus said, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt. 5:16).
Monday: Matthew 5:13-16
Key Idea: We should be a good influence in the world.
Questions for Family Growth: How are Christians to be the "salt of the earth"? How are we to be the "light of the world"? When we let our lights shine, what did Jesus say that others will see? What will those around us will be led to do?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 4:7-9.
Tuesday: Numbers 32:6-15
Key Idea: Our example should never discourage others from doing God's will.
Questions for Family Growth: When all of the spies except Joshua and Caleb gave a bad report to Israel, what effect did it have on the people as a whole? What are some practical ways we might discourage the hearts of those around us today?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 4:10-19.
Wednesday: 1 Timothy 4:11-16
Key Idea: Even younger people can set a godly example for others.
Questions for Family Growth: How do we keep others from "despising" our youth? What are the various things Paul said Timothy should be an example in? In v.15, what must happen before others are going to see progress (and therefore a good example) in our lives?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 4:20-27.
Thursday: 1 Peter 5:1-4
Key Idea: Elders in congregations of Christians should be examples of godliness.
Questions for Family Growth: What is an "elder" in the Lord's church? What does Peter mean when he speaks of being "examples to the flock"? What are some specific ways in which elders should set a good example for their brethren?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 5:1-14.
Friday: 1 Corinthians 11:1
Key Idea: We should follow Christ so that others will be able to follow our example.
Questions for Family Growth: Does the fact that Paul said others should follow his example mean that he was absolutely perfect in every way? When we do what Christ would do in the various situations that we meet, how does that affect those around us?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 5:15-20.