Interesting! I remembered Paul telling people to imitate him … but when I went searching for that scripture verse, I was surprised that the idea of “imitating” was repeated over and over! If something is repeated, it usually means it is important, so this must be important since it is repeated so often, by John, by the author of Hebrews and even in Proverbs. So perhaps it is good advice, to find some godly people around us and see what things are worthy of imitation!
This means that if you would like to get started praying daily for someone and would like to write out your prayers, you do not need to start from scratch. Find someone who is a good prayer and ask them how “they” pray! If you are not sure who you might ask, you can find quite a few dedicated prayers right here at City Church by coming on a Tuesday evening. Ask them if they can help you get started writing out daily prayers for someone. Then you can IMITATE them in how they would do it!
Scriptures are quite clear that imitating someone is not only OK but it is GOOD!
John is quite direct in this, specifying that indeed we are already imitating SOMETHING … we just better be sure we are imitating the GOOD:
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
(3John 1:11 ESV) click=> 3 translations
Proverbs also notes that people are imitating SOMETHING … just make sure it is NOT the ways of a violent man:
Do not envy a violent man,
and do not choose to imitate any of his ways;
(Proverbs 3:31 NET) click=> 3 translations
The author of Hebrews adds an interesting side note to this. Apparently if you don’t know how to get started you may tend to be “sluggish”, so instead find people of faith and perseverance and then imitate them!
10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints. 11 But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:10-12 NET) click=> 3 translations
A few chapters later, we are told to observe your pastors and other leaders in your church … and imitate their faith:
Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7 HCSB) click=> 3 translations
Similarly, Paul says that it is OK to imitate the life of a godly person, especially if they are your father in the faith (or your pastor or other leaders):
14 I am not telling you all this so that you’ll feel guilty or be ashamed of how you have acted. I am only trying to warn you, just as a father would warn his children. 15 You may have 10,000 instructors in the faith of the Anointed One, but you have only one father. In Jesus the Anointed I have become your father through my efforts in spreading the good news. 16 So as your father in the faith, I want to encourage you to live as I have lived. Imitate my life. 17 This is one of the reasons I sent Timothy to be with you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. His mission is to remind you of the way I experience life in the Anointed. In all the churches everywhere I go, I teach the same lessons the same way, and I live out those lessons. (1Corinthians 4:14-17 Voice)
Verse 16 NET: I encourage you, then, be imitators of me.
Verse 16 HCSB: Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
click=> 3 translations
Once again, Paul tells the Corinthians to imitate him:
So imitate me, watch my ways, follow my example, just as I, too, always seek to imitate the Anointed One. (1Corinthians 11:1 Voice) click=> 3 translations
Or, look how the New Living Translation (NLT) phrases it … you do not want to simply imitate a person … you want to imitate a person who is himself imitating Jesus Christ:
NLT: And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
Practice what they preach:
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV) click=> 3 translations
Other translations of verse 9:
CEV: You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you.
GNT: Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.
NIrV: Do what you have learned or received or heard from me. Follow my example. The God who gives peace will be with you.
Observe your godly leaders as they live. They can be a model for you to follow, to imitate!
6 For the sake of the church, brothers and sisters, we insist in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed that you withdraw from any brother or sister who is out of order and unwilling to work, who is straying from the line of teaching we passed on to all of you. 7 You know how essential it is to imitate us in the way we live life. We were never undisciplined 8 nor did we take charity from anyone while we were with you. Instead, you saw how we worked very hard day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to even one person in the community. 9 We had the right to depend on your help and hospitality, as you know; but we wanted to give you a model you could follow, to lay a path of footprints for you to walk in. (2Thessalonians 3:6-9 Voice) click=> 3 translations