Follow the Example
“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of men.”(II Cor. 8:21).
Paul and the brothers who worked with him knew the vital necessity of providing a good example to those with whom they worked. In the context of this verse, Paul is speaking of matters to do with an offering these and other brethren had taken to help the needy saints in Jerusalem. Some had accused Paul of being dishonest and preaching for earthly gain. In this context he assures the brethren that he is keeping everything in plain sight for anyone to see. Note that he says that he is “taking pains to do what is right.”
Whether it is a matter of finances or anything else, we must do our best to prove ourselves as good examples. There is something about religious matters that sends a flag up before the face of the world and automatically makes them suspicious. This is easily seen when you talk of spiritual things in the presence of your friends and neighbors. How many times have you heard people reflect a bad experience with a church or a church member? How often have you heard statements like, “all of those church people are hypocrites.?”
There are many reasons why unbelievers feel the way they do about believers. One of the most common causes of rejection by unbelievers is that they hear us speak of being so right when they see us living so wrong. The inconsistency is bad enough, but when we push Biblical principles as though we are living up to every one of them, we are quickly rejected.
We have a problem. God has instructed us to live as a good example before the world. That we know. Try as we may, we cannot live 100% above sin. On our best day we are nothing but vile sinners. Because of this we have the built-in problem of rejection and inconsistency. How can we be a witness to the world and a good example when we ourselves live such sinful lives?
God knew we would have such a dilemma. He justifies us of our sin before His throne. He sees us as sinless, though we are sinful. He washes us in the blood of His son and makes us clean. God sees us sinless — the world sees us sinful.
A good example is a confessor. Confession is God’s way of bridging the gap between the inconsistency of the believer and the eyes of the unbeliever. God’s people are taught to confess their sins one to another. We are never to become proud or arrogant thinking we are above sin. We are to become a humble and penitent people. In doing so, we will show ourselves as a good example. Will we still sin? Yes! Will we be forgiven? Yes! Will the world see pride and arrogance? No! They will see someone much like themselves. They will see someone who struggles with wrong, but yet, someone who depends totally on God for his righteousness, never on himself.
Confession is a painful thing. It is however, a necessary thing. If I know you are weak and that you do not know all the answers, I’ll be more likely to listen to what you have to say about God than if you came across as one who had heaven by the tail.
Let’s be good examples!