Examples and Warnings

“These things happened as examples and . . warnings for us.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 NIV

History is the great tutor, teaching future generations to be wiser.”

My thoughts today are about “examples and warnings.”

It is often quoted in varying forms, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, Spanish-born American philosopher). I would be accurate to paraphrase his words this way, “He who does not learn from his mistakes is destined to repeat them.” History is the great tutor, teaching future generations to be wiser than those before them. Each generation passes down their stories of successes, as well as their legacy of mistakes made with or without lessons learned. Ever wonder why our children are often so much like us?

But be encouraged, God can use your history, as well as the experiences of others, to make you better than you would otherwise have been. Learn from those experiences. From some you learn what to do and from others what to avoid, but from every example you can learn and be better.

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did . . these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the world has come. So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” I Corinthians 10: 6/11-12 NIV. In the verses before and after, Paul describes the opportunities Israel had and squandered and the consequence of needless loss from their disregard of God’s law, as the things that can serve as examples and warnings to us. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 NIV.

Every person is given the prospect of avoiding others’ errors and breaking free from their own. God does not use history – your own or another’s – to paint a prediction of your future. You have the power to change your future. God uses history to portray the better possibilities that He desires for you. Examples and warnings are the powerful ways God does that.

Edgar A. Guest, a British-born American Poet, wrote, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear; fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear.” Seen a sermon? Had the benefit of a guide on your journey? A good example better than a great explanation for you?

I would pose this question: who is the example you are following? A word of warning; before you follow their path too far, look far ahead to see where that takes you. And consider this: who is following your example? Look around; are you helping or hurting them? A good example helps people; making yourself an exception confuses them.

Paul could confidently write, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ . . join with others in following my example, ad take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV/Philippians 3:17 NIV. Life is never do as I say, not as I do. That just doesn’t work, never has, never will. Take your lead from Jesus. “Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT. His example will never be misleading nor confusing.

My prayer for you today is that you follow examples that make you more like Jesus.