“Be an example . . in the way you live.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT
“As followers of Christ, let us be adjectives describing the Noun.”
My thoughts today ask, “examples or exceptions?”
In life, you learn better by what you see rather than what you are told. A fashion designer creates people’s desire to wear their clothes by displaying them on a beautiful, fashion model. An architect displays the unique beauty of his architectural design for a business client by building a scale model, a replica that accurately represents what the architect has envisioned.
You know my love for architecture. Recently, when in our nations’ capital, friends arranged a behind the scenes look at the magnificent Washington National Cathedral, officially the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, an Episcopal church and impressive structure described as “English Gothic in style, with exquisite architectural sculpture, wood carving, gargoyles, mosaics, and more than 200 stained glass windows. The top of the Gloria in Excelsis Tower is the highest point in Washington, DC.” I love that this glorious house of worship sits in prominence over the apparent seat of government’s places and power.
Taking 83 years to complete, the first stone was laid in 1907 as witnessed by President Theodore Roosevelt and the last finial was placed in 1990, witnessed by President George H.W. Bush. A friend who works there took us where visitors are not usually allowed to go. In the attic, my eye was caught by an exquisitely detailed but dusty, deteriorating scale model. That old model had served generations of artisans and stone masons to understand how their individual skills and efforts would ultimately accomplish the overall beauty and design at the completion of the Cathedral that many of them would never live to see, but generations after them would.
People often live as they please, not knowing or not caring that they are a model, or not careful of what kind of model they are. A professor of mine in college was heard to pray, “Lord, help me to make of the timber of my life a temple, not a tavern.” His words shaped a life-long desire within my young, impressionable heart to be an example of the right things, not the wrong.
You are an example God intended for others to see more clearly His design and skill in building lives for now and eternity – to see and believe what their lives could be in Christ. You can almost hear his joy as Paul writes, “In this way you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result you yourself became an example to all Christians . . and now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 NLT.
Would you be hesitant for others to “imitate you?” Yet someone is copying your words, habits, values, priorities, lifestyle, or beliefs, or spiritual life in ways large or small. To someone you are a role model – to a friend, spouse, child, neighbor, or acquaintance, at times you may be unaware and even when you do not wish to be.
In a devotional book by Chuck Swindoll, he describes Christ-followers “as being adjectives describing the Noun.” What a wonderful description! Your life and mine an everyday example of Jesus. Jesus was clear and certain, “Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father.” John 14:9 NIV.
You should try be the best adjective possible, accurate and descriptive, reflecting a beauty and color and flavor of His attributes and grace. You can make yourself an example or an exception. The first changes lives; the latter confuses them. Which will you be?
My prayer for you today is to be exceptional in all you are and do, not an exception.