“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil 3:17)
In his Epistle to the Philippian believers, Paul encourages them to unite in following his conduct and example. Paul does not just preach doctrine for them to believe, but leads by godly example for them to emulate. He is mindful that Christ is our perfect example, but he is also confident that his godly lifestyle and conduct are worthy examples for believers to follow and pattern their own lives after.
We may think that the impact of our words and actions is insignificant to those around us, whether in our family, workplace, school, church, or neighbourhood. In fact, we may be wondering how we can make a difference to those around us when we are the silent minority. Often, we fail to realise the power of the influence we can have in the lives of those around us.
In the 4th Century, Monica, the mother of Augustine, did not waver in her faith in God and constant prayer for her son. Through her faithful prayers and intercession, Augustine repented of his backsliding ways and re-dedicated himself to the Lord, and went on to become one of the greatest Christian writers and thinkers of his age. May we be encouraged by the words of the poem below:
“You are writing a gospel,
A chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do,
And the words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faulty or true;
Say, what is the gospel
According to you?”
– Melvin J. Wise
The Silent Influencers
You may have heard of people like Dr. Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International) and the two great evangelists D. L. Moody and Billy Graham. But have you heard of Edward Kimball or Henrietta Mears? Without Edward Kimball, there would not have been a D. L. Moody. Moody was led to Christ in the mid-19th Century by his Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, and later began his own Sunday School class with 13 street kids, a number that ballooned to 1,500 in four years. Moody also ministered to the soldiers during the American Civil War. Subsequently, he preached to millions in Europe and America, leading many souls to come to Christ. His work continues today through the Moody Memorial Bible Institute of Chicago.
What about Henrietta Mears? In 1928, she was called to spearhead a Sunday school programme at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood. Under her direction, the class grew from 400 to over 6,000. She later went on to found Gospel Light Publishing and Forest Home Christian Conference Center in Southern California. Of the people she influenced and challenged, 400 went into full-time Christian ministry. Among them were the late Dr. Bill Bright and the late Rev. Billy Graham.
Making a Difference
The Bible contains examples of humble people who went on to influence those around them to become God’s mighty messengers of peace and deliverance. The mother of Moses is one example. Through God’s providence and her unwavering faith in God, she nursed Moses and brought him up in the fear of the Lord in his infancy before handing him back to the daughter of Pharoah. Her godly life and devotion to Moses’ upbringing was instrumental in him becoming the great deliverer of his fellow Israelites. By God’s enabling strength, Moses singlehandedly led them out of bondage in Egypt to the threshold of the promised land in Canaan.
In the New Testament, the disciple Andrew was first called by Jesus, then went on to invite his brother, Simon Peter, to join him in following Jesus. Peter went on to become the chief spokesman and martyr for the early church, alongside his fellow apostle, Paul. We probably remember the unknown boy who was willing to share his meagre lunch and, in the process, allowed Jesus to feed 5,000 men, besides women and children. As we prepare to transition to our new place of worship and ministry at Henderson amidst the challenging circumstances posed by the pandemic, may we be encouraged by God’s Word — that our godly livese and examples do make a difference to those around us. “Therefore, my beloved brethen, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). Amen.
– Eld Elgin Chan