These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
Make no mistake about this biblical truth: Your life . . . my life . . . everyone’s life will serve as either an example to follow or a warning to avoid. I have worked as a coach for decades, and I am always amazed when some high-profile athlete declares, “I’m not a role model!” I have no doubt that they may not want to be a role model, but they most certainly are one for many people who are watching them.
The same can be said for everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. Did you know that you are the only “Bible” some people will ever read? These people who have never opened a Bible know nothing about the 66 books of sacred Scripture . . . but they know a great deal about the life they see you living. And because you are a disciple of Jesus, the way you live is all they know about the Jesus of the Bible.
So the question that needs to be asked is this: Is your life serving as an example to follow? Or is it a warning to avoid? I want to make something perfectly clear: I am not speaking about living a perfect life. Only Jesus did that. One of the beautiful things about the living and active Word of God is that it presents its heroes as sinners in need of a Savior, just as you and I are. We live every aspect of our lives imperfectly. We all think things we ought not think. . . we say things we ought not say . . . and we do things we ought not do.
What I am talking about when I say that our lives should serve as an example to follow is that our hearts should be filled with the desire to live a life that is pleasing to God, even though we know it will not be perfect on this side of the grave. Peter’s life was far from perfect; he denied knowing our Lord three times and later refused to eat with Gentile Christians, earning a sharp rebuke from Paul (Galatians 2:11). Yet the life Peter lived serves as a wonderful example of what it means to live for nothing smaller than Jesus Christ, even while living it imperfectly.
Every great saint in Scripture and in the history books had their share of blemishes and warts for all the world to see. But that just makes them more real to us! Even when others don’t see our shortcomings, we know they are there. We are painfully aware when we do not measure up. And yet, in spite of our imperfections, God has chosen us to put His glorious Gospel on display. Never forget that God uses imperfect people . . . because that’s all He he has to work with!
Have you considered the example you are setting for those around you? Look, we’re all going to mess it up from time to time. When you do fall short of setting a good example, confess your sin and ask for forgiveness — from God and from those you may have disappointed, offended, or hurt. Then get on with your life and live it, as much as it is within your power, for the glory of God and the good of others.
Everyone is an example. So let me ask you once again: Is your life serving as an example to follow? Or is it a warning to avoid?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!