Most of us can recall being children and getting a spanking from one of our parents, and you may have heard them say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” We did not believe it as children, but if we eventually had children ourselves then we came to understand it. We find in this passage in the Bible Paul the Apostle taking a similar attitude. It pained him to have to be so blunt with the people he loved, yet he knew it was for their own good. It hurt him more than it hurt them. He said in verse 14, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” You can hear it in his words; this hurts me more than it hurts you. A rebuke is like that; it is often painful to the one who gives it, but if received it is beneficial to those who receive it. Paul’s concern for these believers was for them to walk in the abundant life of Christ and to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk ye in Him.” In other words, you are now followers of Jesus Christ, so live like it, act like it, and be like Jesus. It’s not enough to talk the talk, but we must walk the walk.
I wonder how many of us would be willing to encourage others to be like us? The Bible says in verse 16, “I beseech you, be followers (imitators) of me.” The only way we can do this is if we are living lives which are honoring Christ. Obviously, if we were living ungodly lives, we would not want to tell others to be like us, but if we are striving to be like Christ, then our goal is to be examples of the faith. Our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read. You and I might be the only earnest examples of the faith some people ever meet.
This summer will mark for me 28 years of ministry. Over the years I have seen people who called themselves Christians, yet their lives gave little to no evidence of this statement. As the Word of God says in another place, “God forbid (Romans 6:2).” As Christians, our lives are to be characterized by the mind and attitudes of Jesus. If not, we will be unable to encourage others in the faith. If we are not seeking to be as Jesus how can we expect others to be like Him? We must confront a harsh reality; when unbelievers look at us, what do they see? Do they see vibrant examples of faith? Or, do they see people who say one thing then do another? Being witnesses for Jesus Christ involves a clear consistency between word and deed. Only then can we encourage others to the way of life in Christ.
Remember, with God this is indeed possible. Never give up. Never quit. Keep trusting and believing.
God bless you today.