5 November 2010

Philippians 3:17 - 4:1

"Therefore my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved." (v.1)


'Role model' is a term we hear a lot in today's society. Rightly or wrongly, many people today look up to people in the public eye as examples to emulate, regardless of whether or not they set themselves up as such. Here, we see Paul practically offering himself as a role model to the Philippians. "Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me," he says in verse 17. It must take a lot of self-confidence to open yourself up to public scrutiny like that!

Character, rather than fame or notoriety, is what makes a person a true role model - hence Paul's instruction to the Philippians to "observe those who live according to the example you have in us" (which can also be found in verse 17). These are people who may not be household names, but whose steadfastness to God speaks volumes. And theirs is the sort of model behaviour to which we should all be aspiring.

Ultimately, however, our focus must move beyond those human role models. Even as Paul urged those in his care to imitate him, it was with the caveat "as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1) (ie as I imitate Christ). His aim was never to create an army of clones of himself, but rather to see people grow in faith and character, and become more Christlike.

To Ponder

Paul encourages the Philippians to imitate him (verse 17). How important is it for Christians to have role models? And how do you go about choosing who to imitate?

According to verse 20, our citizenship is in heaven. What effect should knowing that have on our earthly citizenship, wherever we happen to live?

Bible notes author

George Luke

George Luke works as an editor and writer at Methodist Church House. He grew up in Sierra Leone and now lives in London.