And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
You and I both know that we become like the people and things we surround ourselves with. For example, I often find myself mimicking my close friends and even favorite television and book characters. Because of this, I find that I must be very selective with those I allow into my sphere of influence. As human beings, we are highly impressionable. This means that you and I also have the power to leave a positive impression on others, especially the children in our lives. Whether we are biological or adoptive parents, spiritual parents, or both, you and I have the responsibility to lead by example and point those around us to Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, the apostle Paul calls people to center their lives around Christ and to let go of any idolatry, which is putting anything above the place of God in our lives. “My dear friends,” Paul writes, “flee from worthless idols” (1 Corinthians 10:14). Paul explains that we cannot worship God and worship the things that are not of Him at the same time. In light of this, he writes, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As he explains these things, he says, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). In other words, Paul was explaining that he lived a life worth following as he modeled his own life after Christ.
“Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Can you imagine Paul’s confidence in the way he lived his life to echo those words? Paul deliberately and unapologetically centered His life around Christ. He did not stop there, however. He called others to center their lives around Christ and imitate Him as well.
As we think about these words spoken by Paul, two action steps come to mind: live a life centered on Christ, worthy of being imitated, and encourage others to center their lives around Christ as well, especially our children. If you are a parent, are you modeling your life around Christ, encouraging your children to do the same? If you are not a parent, Paul was not, you are just as called to pour into others as “spiritual children,” helping and teaching new followers of Christ to live a life that honors God. Let’s be people who reflect Christ’s love and point others to Him.
Go for a walk and spend time reflecting on your life. Are you setting an example for those around you? Parents, what kind of example are you setting specifically for your children? Spend time thinking about areas that need improvement and ask the Lord to help you live so that you can echo Paul’s words, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Take time to pray with each of your children this week. Don’t pray the same prayers as always, but ask God to work in your kids’ lives. Pray big and audacious prayers and let them see you do it so that they can follow your example.
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1 (NLT)
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.
Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar?
What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
So you may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace without raising questions of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
If someone who isn’t a believer asks you home for dinner, accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you without raising questions of conscience. (But suppose someone tells you, “This meat was offered to an idol.” Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.