June 12, 2017

Do As I Do

Devotion for the Week...

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Do as I say, not as I do," right? Maybe you've even said it, or words to the same effect. I remember a few years ago, when Zach had his hair long and he started twirling it absently now and then. I got after him for it and he said, "Why? You do it." Do I ever! I've twirled my hair for as long as I can remember, but I still told him it's a bad habit and one he shouldn't be starting.

I was intrigued recently to read in Paul's letter to the Philippians that he tells them, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice" (Philippians 4:9). Whatever you have learned or received or heard, that's what Paul said to them. But or seen in me, that's what Paul did while he was with them. Essentially, he's telling them "Do as I say, and as I do."

That's a pretty daunting thing to think about telling someone, don't you think? Follow my example - treat people the way I treat people, react to problems the way I react, use your time and money as I do, talk about people (or not) like I do...You would think you would have to have control over yourself at all times before you could tell someone else to do as they have seen you do.

Interestingly, though, if you read more of Paul's writings, you will see that he didn't feel he had control over himself all the time. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). That I can relate to! Can you?

If Paul found himself not doing the things he knew he should be doing, and doing the things he knew he shouldn't be doing, how could he tell the Philippians to do as they had seen him do? In thinking about that, I remembered a time years ago, before my own kids were born, when I watched a mom interact with her toddler daughter. The daughter was insisting they had brought a particular toy with them and the mom was saying they hadn't and trying to get her daughter to put on her coat to go home, but then the child they were visiting dashed into the play area and came back with the toy. The mom got down on her knees to be at her daughter's level and apologized very sincerely for not believing her. That apology has stuck with me all these years. The mom could have given an offhand, "Oh, I guess we did bring it" and continued getting ready to leave. Instead, she acknowledged she was wrong and that she was sorry. That modeled to her daughter exactly how to behave when you get something wrong.

I think that's why Paul could tell the Philippians to do as he did. Not because he got everything right all the time, but because he was willing to acknowledge when he got things wrong. Being willing to say you're wrong and to ask for forgiveness when necessary requires humility. It also requires a willingness to be honest and real.

The fact is, we're all going to make mistakes. That's not in question. The question is, how do we deal with those mistakes? And what lessons are the people around us learning from how we deal with our imperfections? Are we an example worth following even when we get things wrong?

The other factor in why I think Paul could tell the Philippians to do as he did is that Paul was trying his best to live right. No, he didn't get it right all the time, but he was always aiming to live for Christ. He could encourage them to do as he did because he knew that would mean they would be striving to live for Christ too.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I know I'll never get everything right and so I like knowing that even though Paul knew he made mistakes, his example was (and is!) still worth following.

May we be an example worth following too.

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