The meaning of the word example is a pattern or model, as something to be imitated or avoided. A second definition is one serving as a pattern of a specific kind. Another definition is something that represents other things of the same kind.

We read in John 13:15," For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. "
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. " Matthew 5:14

When we turn off the lights in a room, it is filled with darkness. We stumble about and are unable to determine where we should walk.

"Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father is in heaven. " Matthew 5:15-16
Mark's account says, " Also He said to them, ' Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?'" Mark 4:21

We cannot be the light of the world if our example is not an example of Jesus. Jesus was the light of the world. We must form our lives to be after the life of Jesus.

"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ' I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'" John 8:12
The word darkness here refers to evil.

Read in John 3:19 ," And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

We are to be imitators of Christ. If we are not patterning our lives after Christ, then we are failing in obeying Him. The pattern set before us is the life of Jesus. We are able to be imitators of Him.

Paul in writing to the Colossians said,"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:9-10

Over twenty years ago, a teacher was teaching young children. One Sunday morning, a young girl came to her and said," I want to be like you when I grow up. " This young girl's father did not attend services, but her mother and her siblings did, making it difficult for her at home. They had no physical relationship, but the teacher said the child's words sent shivers through her. Fifteen years later, they saw one another again. She told the teacher she was attending medical school to become a doctor. We never know who is watching our example and what may happen.

" Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." II Timothy 1:13

We read in I Peter 2:21," For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth;"

We should take care not to follow someone's bad example. In Proverbs 22:24-25 we read," Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. "

The Biblical example used here is the apostle Paul. Even though Paul had persecuted the church of Christ earlier in his life, he lived diligently for the Lord. He taught , was jailed and suffered persecution for the Lord.

We are told by Paul in Philippians 4:9," The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Then he says in I Corinthians 4:16," Therefore I urge you, imitate me."

" Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern." Philippians 3:17

When my son was small, he enjoyed molding his play-dough into forms. He would try to be as exact as he could. Jesus is our perfect example. We are to mold our lives after His example.

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
I Timothy 1:16 (NKJV)

Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
I Corinthians 8:13 (NKJV)

And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
I Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV)

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
Hebrews 13:7 (NKJV)

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
II Timothy 3:10 (NKJV)

We are told to be careful not to cause someone to falter.

Our example is extremely important. It is seen by others without our knowledge.

Just as a seamstress follows a pattern, we are to follow the pattern Christ Jesus left for us. Those who make garments are precise in their work, making sure the seams match. Jesus left a pattern for us to follow. That pattern is the life that He lived. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:1," Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ."

Discussion and study questions:

(1) In the Bible, what does light refer to?
(2) In God's Word, what does darkness refer to?
(3) As lights in the world, what are we to do?

Copyright 2007 Linda Lawrence