March 23, 2009

Transformation Through Example

2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2:1-2; 3:10-11

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13


Albert Schweitzer once declared, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others—it is the only thing.” Often people who close their ears to advice will open their eyes to example. As a church leader, I can preach that believers should reach out to non-Christians, but unless I do so myself, the chances are slim that my listeners will do the same.

Paul willingly modeled the gospel, and he encouraged Timothy to look at his way of life and even at his failures and struggles. Paul knew that in doing so Timothy would find helpful principles for his own life.

The faithful believers we meet in Scripture serve as examples of discipleship. When I’m impatient, I study the endurance of Job. If I feel ornery, I allow the apostle John to refocus my attention on love. If the melody in my heart has been silenced, I read David’s psalms and sense God’s songs returning to my soul.

To motivate his officers, General Eisenhower placed a length of rope on a table. “I need a volunteer to push this rope across,” he said. Those who tried couldn’t do it as they pushed from one end of the rope. Then Eisenhower grabbed the rope and pulled it across the table. “Pushing men might work once in a while,” he said, “but the most effective way is to pull them along by going on ahead and serving as an example.”

Sovereign Lord, we praise you for the examples of many faithful believers. Empower us also to be examples to others in our thoughts, words, and deeds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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