What you have learned
I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go. 1 Corinthians 4:16-17
When I was learning to play the cello, my teacher always told me to look carefully at other cellists. He told me that this was really important because I would learn something from all of them. It’s just the same with the Christian life. We can read the Bible and Christian books and listen to sermons but watching other Christians is crucial. From their example, we turn the theory into practice. That was exactly Paul’s point in these verses. He was the last person to suggest that he was a perfect example of Christian faith, but he knew that the church in Corinth needed to learn from his example. They had become arrogant and were making bad decisions and so he sent his young friend Timothy to remind them of their need to imitate him.
I would be fascinated to know whose Christian example has been important for you. I think of so many people who have been a blessing to me. I think, for example, of the irrepressible joy of my Indian granny. When I lived in India I was generously welcomed into a loving family. Granny was a widow and was an important part of our family life. The family was poor and life had been a struggle but she had a strong faith. One of the loveliest experiences of living in India was to preach through the interpretation of her son. I would see granny with twinkling eyes listening to everything I said. She loved the Lord so much, but longed to know him better.
I also think of the amazing love that people have shown through caring for sick or disabled relatives. They have poured out their lives with such grace and patience. I thank God for them and for the way in which their example gives me strength and encouragement as I live for God.
This teaching, of course, works two ways. We should indeed be grateful for those whose Christian example has been a blessing to us. But we need to remember that other people are looking at us and we need to reflect on what kind of example we are setting.
Think of the three people whose Christian example has been most important to you. What have you learned from them?
Lord God, I thank you for all those people who have helped me to understand how to follow you. Help me never to forget what I have learned. Amen