Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. – Philippians 3:1-21 (NIV)
I have experienced great joy and satisfaction watching my littlest girl imitate her older sister. She has been doing it more and more, a little shadow following her object of fascination around with extreme dedication. The eldest usually handles it well, showing patience and maturity. However, there are times that her patience wears thin and the shadow dissipates into tears and hurt feelings; then the cycle begins again.
Many times the younger misses the mark in emulating the older over an issue of timing – she is too small, too weak, and too immature. It is no fault of hers, but the nature of growth and development. As her coordination improves, her muscles gain strength and her mind absorbs knowledge, she will be able to imitate with great skill.
Christ, our eldest brother, asks us to be like Him in every way; to love like Him, pray like Him, and extend grace and mercy like Him. But Christ is gracious and compassionate and gave us the gifts of discipleship and fellowship to make the difficult process possible. How blessed are we that others around us are a little more like Jesus than we? How beautiful that we are surrounded by those with the same struggles and hopes and promises?
Paul encourages the Philippians to help one another in this passage by following one another on the path toward Christ-likeness, a practice Paul followed himself. To press on is to be more like Jesus tomorrow than you are today. Do you have a brother or sister in Christ that you can imitate? What example are you setting for those who are watching you? I pray that as my daughters look to me that they will be led toward Christ. I pray that I will watch after those who go ahead and take note of their example. And I pray that all of us together will make the journey with our eyes on Christ and our prayers for one another.