My Bible reading this morning during “coffee with the Lord” included this verse – this challenge:
“Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate what is good! Whoever does good is from God: whoever does evil has not seen God!” (3 John 11 ESV)
It seems to me there are two challenges in this verse:
1) The challenge to those who serve as examples and models to others… those who are “imitated.”
2) The challenge to those who are inclined to imitate others, whose lives they admire.
I remember the shock I felt when I heard a top tier professional athlete declare, “I am not a role model for anyone!” That is not only shocking – it is incredibly stupid! A person of influence and notoriety has a gigantic and sobering responsibility! Especially when young eyes are watching them and seek to emulate them not “on the court” but “off the court.” But it is a challenge that is borne by more than professional athletes and “the rich and famous” – It is a challenge of incredible proportions for parents, teachers, pastors, politicians, bosses, and all who have influence. I tell you, with God’s help I want to be the “good” that others emulate! I embrace what the pro-athlete I heard rejected … I recognize I AM a role model for others and with God’s help I want to be a good one – a godly one!
But the second challenge deserves attention as well. In the face of all the glitz and glamorous – the toys and trinkets – the expensive cars and houses – the crowds and the clapping – to choose to reject the “evil” and “imitate what is good!” This calls for the inner fortitude and spiritual strength that only God can provide through the Holy Spirit abiding within a person! It depends on godly relationships and effective disciple-making! It depends of winsome, godly, role-models! It depends on wholesome close relationships forged in a fellowship of believers – a healthy church! It depends on godly moms and dads and caregivers who take their responsibility seriously! People who “care enough to confront” when that is necessary and affirm profusely what is wholesome and good in character when that is exhibited.
There it is for us all: “Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate what is good!”