第1コリント 4:15-16 この私が福音によって、キリスト・イエスにあって、あなたがたを生んだのです。ですから、私はあ なたがたに勧めます。どうか、私にならう者となってください。

Particularly in this culture, it is often considered conceit for one person to tell another to imitate them. However, imitation is the most fundamental learning method we experience. Babies don't learn to walk if they don't see people walking! We understand that fact with babies and small children, but we tend to forget it as people get older. However, the principle still applies no matter how old a person is. The governing factor is generally one of attitude: whether the person thinks they can learn, and whether they want to, particularly from the example in question. It is true enough that many people don't present an example worth following! However, as long as we're focused on ourselves, we are either very vulnerable to conceit or we don't think we could be a good example to anybody. It is when our focus is on Christ that we can safely tell others to imitate us. Paul made that a little clearer in chapter 11, when he said “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” If our hearts are committed to follow Christ, we need have no hesitation in telling others to imitate us.


As a pastor, being a good example is a major part of my job. The same may be said for my secular teaching work as well. Accordingly, I've got to be doubly on my guard against conceit. That has indeed been a snare to me over the years, and I must not get careless. At the same time, I must encourage the believers in being examples to those around them. That's where Japanese self-deprecation gets in the way. It is seen as conceit to claim you are an example worth following! I must not be the only good example in this church, because many people write themselves off as being unable to follow the example of a “professional Christian.” That's why my job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, as it says in Ephesians 4:12. I need to help them understand that the Holy Spirit is just as ready to work through them as He is through me.


Father, this is a pressing issue right now, with two faithful members likely to move away because of job situations. Help me encourage all the believers to believe that they can be just as true and useful to You as those who are leaving. Keep me from emotionally rejecting those who are leaving, in a petty reaction to the hurt of their departure. Help me be honest, with them, with myself, and with the others in the church, that it is painful for them to leave, but that God's plans are far greater and better than anything we could come up with. Help me trust You indeed, looking forward to what You are going to do next, to whom You are going to raise up, so that I won't allow the devil to use circumstances to steal my peace or my joy. Thank You. Praise God!


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