1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
“Imitation” usually means one of two things for us today: either it is something fake in the place of the real thing or it is someone doing an impersonation of someone else. Imitation may mean “lower in fat” or “cheaper in cost”, but it’s still not a term that we generally think of in a positive manner. And while a good impersonation of Al Pacino or the President may be good for a laugh, and “imitator” still speaks of something that is fake.
However, in the Bible we find that “imitating” has a very positive meaning and is something that we should all strive for. First let’s look at the actual meaning of “imitate”:
- To use or follow as a model
- To copy the actions, appearance, mannerisms, or speech of; mimic
- To copy or use the style of
- To copy exactly; reproduce
- To appear like; resemble
- Reproduce someone’s behavior or looks
- To behave in a similar way to someone or something else, or to copy the speech or behaviour, etc. of someone or something
Those are some of the English dictionary definitions. Let’s take a look at the Greek word:
- mimetes taken from the root word: mimeomai which means to follow or mimic
Followers of what? Mimics of who? Imitators how? Let’s take a look…
1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (NKJV)
Who is “me” in this verse? It is the apostle Paul. On the surface this would seem to be a rather boastful statement, encouraging us to imitate him. Who does he think he is?
1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)
So that’s the catch… we should imitate Paul as he imitates Christ. For the Christian it always leads back to Christ. Paul was an imitator of Christ. He followed Christ; he copied Christ; he tried to reproduce Christ in his life; he behaved, appeared and spoke the words of Christ. And in doing this, Paul could boldly tell us that we should imitate him because he was a true reproduction of Christ. So this begs the question of us:
Do you live a life that is enough of an imitation of Christ that
you can tell others to imitate you if they want to be like Jesus?
Every Christian should strive to reach a point of Christ likeness where they can confidently tell a new, struggling or weaker Christian, “just imitate me and you will be like Christ”. With a show of hands please, how many reading this could make that claim at this moment? Even better than imitating a person who is imitating Christ, Paul commands us to imitate God Himself:
Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (NKJV)
Of course to be able to imitate God, we have to know about God. To know about God, we have to spend time with God, read God’s word, and communicate with God through prayer. And therein lies the problem. Imitating God takes hard work, consistency and diligence… not exactly common qualities in our society today.
In the first seven verses, Paul gives a very explicit roadmap to living the Christian life: imitate God, walk in love, avoid sexual immorality and covetousness, cease foolish talk and improper humor; and be a person who has a thankful heart. The Bible is full of such specific descriptions on how to live a holy life; so I’m always amazed and somewhat humored when I hear that it is “too hard” to know how to live the Christian life.
We are also to imitate those who have successfully gone before us in the Christian life.
Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (NKJV)
Here we are encouraged not to become sluggish or dull in our Christian walk, but look at those who have already obtained the promises of God through a life of faith and patience. It includes the great people of faith found in Hebrews 11 and throughout the Scriptures, as well as any of God’s faithful people that we know about such as missionaries, preachers and servants. Or, it could be someone in your own family… or the life of a faithful friend that you have witnessed.
As Christians, we have plenty of real heroes to imitate
and, contrary to the world’s definition, they aren’t
movie, sports or music celebrities.
That’s certainly not to say there are no genuine faithful Christians in the entertainment or sports world (there most certainly are), but you get my point. The world’s idea of heroes is directly opposite of God’s idea.
Not only are we to be imitators of certain people according to Scripture, there is also a “thing” that we are to imitate as well:
3 John 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. (NKJV)
We are to imitate what is good. How can we know what is good? That leads us back to Christ; anything that Christ says, does, believes or practices is good. And we are to imitate that.
In what ways do we imitate evil? There’s the obvious things like immorality, profanity or dishonesty; then there are many more subtle things that we should be aware of such as taking pleasure in wickedness (entertainment, jokes, gossip, etc.), wanting what the world wants (materialism, recognition, power, status, etc.) or neglecting the diligent pursuit and discovery of God’s Word and Will.
What we imitate is a litmus test and a direct statement about the authenticity of our salvation. The apostle John states very plainly and without apology that “he who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” It doesn’t take a Greek scholar to interpret the plain meaning of that verse.
Who are you imitating today? Are you imitating a sports figure, someone in the latest clothing ads or some “successful” businessperson? Are you imitating the “live for the weekend” world? Are you imitating a religious personality? Are you imitating anyone but Christ?
We’re all imitating somebody, that’s a fact. If you harbor the idea that you are some sort of non-conformist cut from a different mold, then you are simply imitating the multiple billions of people over the course of history who are lovers of the themselves rather than God (2Tim 3.2).
Imitate Christ. Imitate God. Imitate the apostle Paul who imitates Christ. Imitate those faithful and patient Believers who have already won the prize. Live a life that is worthy of being imitated by others… as you imitate Christ.
Uh-ba-duh, uh-ba-duh…. that’s all folks! (my Porky Pig imitation; pretty lame, huh?)
Lord, Help us to be imitators of Your Dear Son; help us to imitate the heroes of our faith who have gone before us; help us to find Your holy servants who are around us this very day and imitate them as they imitate You. Help us to live a life worthy of imitation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Who do you imitate? Oh, it’s somebody, don’t fool yourself. Is it your parents? A famous person? A wealthy person? Even a religious leader? Is it anyone but Christ? If someone else were looking at your life, who would they say you are imitating? If someone looks at your schedule and checkbook, who would they guess you are imitating?
Application: Imitate Christ. Imitate God. Imitate the apostle Paul to imitate Christ. Imitate those faithful and patient Believers who have already won the prize. Live a life that is worthy of being imitated by others as you imitate Christ. Evaluate and examine who you are imitating. If it’s not Christ, change. If your life isn’t worth imitating, change.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?