The apostle Paul says, "... I try to please everyone in all I do. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also [imitate] Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:33, 11:1
I believe this is an example of an inappropriate chapter break. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians as a single book. No chapter and verse numbers. The Bible was first broken up into chapters in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan's verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions. (Source: "Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses? Why and when was it done?" @ Got Questions dot com)
So considering that Paul was the inspired writer and didn't divide his book into chapters and verses, we need to look at the above verses as most likely connecting. And we see an incredible statement being made by Paul who then adds to it, :"Imitate me Just as I imitate Christ." and "just as I try to please everyone in all I do. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, that they may be saved." (!!!)
This is what I've been meditating on today.
Late last night I was looking at the Greek word, μιμητής (Strong's # 3402. mimétés - the root of the English term, mimic, "one who imitates, emulates"). This Greek noun has 6 occurrences and is always used positively in the New Covenant writings – spoken of followers of Christ emulating a God-approved example. The supreme model is God Himself (see Eph 5:1).
“Now about brotherly love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. And indeed, you are showing this love to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to excel more and more.” (Paul is saying “Go Further...”) ~1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10
“As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up and knelt before Him. “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call Me good? Jesus replied, “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, and honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher, he replied, “I have kept all these from my youth.” Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “There is one thing you lack: Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” (In other words, Jesus said "Go Further...") —Mark 10:17-21
Here are the occurrences:
"I exhort you, be imitators of me...." 1 Corinthians 4:16
"Be imitators of me, just as I also Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1
"Therefore be imitators of God,..." Ephesians 5:1
"...you became imitators of us and of the Lord," 1 Thessalonians 1:6
"...became imitators of the churches..." 1 Thessalonians 2:14
...that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those..." Hebrews 6:12
FOUR TIMES Paul tells us to imitate him and Jesus! He uses the verb form twice in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 to say the same thing.
"For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not undisciplined among you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, in labor and toil, we worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you. Not that we lack this right, but we wanted to offer ourselves as an example for you to imitate."
If we have the Spirit of God, this needs to be our goal. We need to strive for this. We must strive for this. Why?
For "the good of many, that they may be saved." 1 Cor 10:33b
That's why. We can make an eternal difference in someone's life.
Paul told Timothy, "Be diligent in these matters and absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to your life and to your teaching. Persevere in these things, FOR BY DOING SO YOU WILL SAVE BOTH YOURSELF AND THOSE THAT HEAR YOU." 1 Timothy 4:15, 16
The following exhortation from Paul about imitating him gets even more severe. This is from his letter to the Philippians. Paul uses the word I mentioned above (mimétés) but it has a "sun" (syn) in front of it which means, "a joint imitator." He then describes those who do not obey his teachings. Paul says, "Join one another in following my example, brothers, and carefully observe those who live according to the pattern we set for you. For as I have often told you before, and now declare even weeping: Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame. Their minds are set on earthly things." Philippians 3:17-19
That statement from Paul should terrify us. It reminds me of when the Lord told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. "Is it I Lord?" They asked one by one (Matthew 26:21, 22). I read this statement from Paul and ask the same thing. "Is that me Lord?" I then pray to God to please don't let that be me. Please Lord, let me understand what I am to do, where to go, what to say and do exactly as You will. Not my will, by Thy will be done Lord.
Again Paul says, "Though I am free of obligation to anyone, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the Law I became like one under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law), to win those under the Law. To those without the Law I became like one without the Law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the Law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I MIGHT SAVE SOME OF THEM. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Are we hearing Paul? Are we hearing what the Spirit is saying? Are we convicted yet for falling so short? I am! And every day I am seeking the Lord for growth and transformation into His image and likeness. His grace fills the gaps but He requires us to grow so that in the future LOVE will fill in many of those gaps. God's Word is telling us that we can make a difference in people's lives. An eternal difference. Not only in the unsaved, but the saved as well. We can positively or negatively impact a born again brother or sister. We can cause them to stumble, or we can help correct them.
James says, "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, consider this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins." James 5:19, 20
In addition to imitating God, Paul goes further and tells us two times how and why he did it.
Not only did he physically make his body do God's will. Paul did the same thing in his mind. He says, "The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5
"Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9
Amen. As we can see, Paul said these kinds of things many times and in many different ways. They are incredible revelations from God. He received them from Christ and put them into practice and then shared them with us. Paul warns us, encourages us and goads us into obedience. Paul said that was a major purpose for his ministry. "...Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Him and on behalf of His name, we received grace and apostleship to call all those among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." (Romans 1:5, Romans 15:18, Romans 16:26)
Thank God for His written word. And thank God for Paul. Now we need to obey this heavenly instruction from Christ. And then persuade others to do so also. Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19 And that's the answer. And that takes dedication and perseverance.
When it comes to serving Christ, I feel its good and right to challenge myself to go further. I then like to provoke others to challenge themselves. Paul was that way, because the Lord is that way. And I want to be like them. Paul also instructed the congregations to be like him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). Paul knew he was serving God. He was being obedient. That is why God "found him faithful" putting him in the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). Paul was incredible. He compared everything to serving God. Like Running a race ~1 Corinthians 9:24
Competing in all athletics ~1 Corinthians 9:25
Boxing ~1 Corinthians 9:26, 27
Being a soldier ~2 Timothy 2:4
Paul made these comparisons in his own personal walk with God. And it helped him. He saw that it helped him and he then shared these little spiritual exercises in his letters. Paul saw things from Christ's view. Incredible, he was. God gave him so many revelations of God's power in Christ, and the utterance to express these things in words. Paul saw this was available to ALL, through Christ. And when you see that, as Paul did, you can't keep quiet about it.
Paul brought some heavenly instruction for serving God which no one on earth would ever be able to give for any other activity. It was God-specific. Like this verse here,
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us," Ephesians 3:20
Please read that again, slowly. Nobody can fulfill this work in any endeavor on this earth, unless they were going to be putting it into practice by serving God, and only by the power God offers through Christ, in our spirit (those who have been born again).
Now we have to realize, God has always said these kinds of things through His holy prophets and apostles. Christ said many similar things. Christ never told people what they did was good enough. Christ always told them to go further. Why. Because in Christ, more and more is always possible.
We need to grasp this. Like Paul did. We need to challenge ourselves. And then challenge ("provoke to love") our brethren (Hebrews 10:24). Paul used the word ἀγωνίζομαι. Yes, that is the exact word Paul used. As he wrote his letters in Greek. That Greek word is often translated into English as "strive". But what does that mean? This is what it means, "I am struggling, striving (as in an athletic contest or warfare); I contend, as with an adversary.... like engaged in an intense athletic contest or warfare." Jesus used this word too. Jesus said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:24
If we go to Christ, "take" His yoke upon us, and learn of Him and strive, all these things are possible for us. Paul did not write those things to the church so the church would say, "wow, that sounds awesome!" No, he, by the Holy Spirit, wrote these things for the church to put into ACTION. And we have this same opportunity right now, as anyone ever did. If we take God's word seriously. And we take His yoke upon us and "strive", then the resurrected CHRIST will bring us into unimaginable spiritual territory! Just like Paul said.
THAT is where I want to go. Who wants to come with me?
I hope this little message blessed you. If so, please share it with everyone. Don't be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, "because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16) All praise and glory belongs only to God the Father by His Anointed Son Jesus. Please read my other recent messages on my wall and share those too!
Thank you. And "May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5 Amen
We are God's creation. And we all will be judged by Him. That is simply the truth and we have to deal with it. We cannot put this off. We do not know when it will be our turn to stand before God for judgment. It can happen at any time. All who have died in this world have already met their fate. God makes sure we all are given plenty of chances before that day comes.
"For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2
Because tomorrow may never come.
The Bible says,
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
If you read this message and you feel like God is calling you to turn from your sinful life and accept His precious gift of salvation through Christ, then say this prayer:
Say, "My Lord and my God, Have mercy on my soul, a sinner, I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all my sins. I believe Jesus raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is listening to my prayer right now. I open up the door of my heart and I invite You into my heart Lord Jesus."
Now please pick up a Bible (you can probably get one at any thrift store, cheap), and study it every day. If you see God telling you to do things that seem too hard to do, pray to Him and ask Him for the power to obey Him. God never tells us to do anything that is too hard. By His Spirit within us, we CAN do whatever He says! He even says that His "yoke is easy, pleasant and His burden is light and we will find rest for our soul." (Matthew 11:29, 30)
God bless, and if something happened to you when saying the above prayer, please drop me a message here.
I pray that God the Father bless you through His Son Jesus the Christ, as you seek Him wholeheartedly. Amen.
You can be saved!
God loves the people in the world so much that He came down to die for us. If God is opening your heart to His message and you feel convicted for your sins which have separated you from a holy God and you feel the need to be forgiven, then say this prayer. This is how I was powerfully converted to the Christ in 1997!
Say, "My Lord and my God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe Jesus the Christ died on the cross and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all my sins. I believe Jesus raised from the dead and ascended into heaven and is now on the right-hand side of God listening to this prayer. I open up the door of my heart and I invite You in, Lord Jesus. Thank you, God, for saving my soul and I vow to serve you with all my heart which is the first and greatest commandment. Amen."