“I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:16).
The Biblical demand to maintain balance and connection between good doctrine and good behavior should be obvious to all – its importance is emphasized by its repetition. Please note:
Show and Tell
Most people have been introduced to some information or skill that is difficult to understand or execute. At that point they are thankful for an instructor or friend who will tell and then show them how to execute or understand what is desired. Such was the Apostle Paul’s ministry to Timothy and Titus. Paul instructs both Timothy and Titus in “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 3:10; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2; Titus 1:9). He then challenges Pastor Timothy to be “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). He exhorted Pastor Titus to “show thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8). Truth needs to be modeled!
Follow the Leader
This is a repeated and appropriate Biblical blueprint for the believer’s execution in this Dispensation of Grace. Please note carefully: “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:16-17).
“For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us” (2 Thess. 3:7-9).
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:17-18).
Paul describes himself as the “chief” of sinners who was saved because the “grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14). God not only saved him but also counted him faithful and put him “into the ministry!” What grace! What a glorious privilege! Think of it! God not only saved him but made him a minister of the “Gospel of Glory!” Why would God do this? Because God wanted to use Paul as an example, not only of saving grace but also of godly behavior. Jesus Christ used Paul to show His patience and power in bringing an “injurious, persecuting and blaspheming” sinner (1 Tim. 1:13) from hopelessness into grace and godliness. Paul is a “pattern to them, which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (1 Tim. 1:16). If God showed such great longsuffering to save the Chief of Sinners – Praise God! – There is hope of salvation and experiential sanctification for all who believe! This is encouraging! With the repeated challenge for the believer to behave in a godly manner, Paul’s success and example is an encouragement set before us to “follow.”
The Power of Example
I reluctantly use a personal example; however, I do so because I know it is true. I speak of my father and the powerful influence of his life example on me.
My father had, for many years, been in the rough and tough cowboy/rodeo show business and had lived his life in a manner that was typical of that profession. However, when he became a Christian and began to read and study the Bible, his behavior was altered in relation to the degree he learned and applied the Bible doctrine. The Bible says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). This is true! Godliness is not an idle dream. It is possible to be conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29)! My father could have been described in similar terms as Paul described himself. God did a radical overhaul of my father! I could never escape the example he left for me to follow. I am thankful, and I believe I am in the gospel ministry today, largely because my father was sound in doctrine and godly in behavior! I saw Christ in his life.
Now, it’s my turn to take the doctrine and behavior that I am learning and commit it “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).