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"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12).
We are called to lead by example to the unbelievers and the believers.
When Martus was three years old he saw his mother kneeling next to her bed and reading her Bible. So he asked his mother why she did that, and she explained to him why. Then he replied that he wanted to do it as well, and he knelt next to her. He wanted God to speak to him as well and so he gave his life to the Lord.
Do you see the importance of being an example, even to a little child?
As he grew up, he saw his father preaching, and he decided that he wanted to be a preacher like his father.
Today he is still studying to be a lawyer and is assisting in the Lord's work.
We must be manly and be faithful to the Lord, as it is said in German, "Ein mann, ein wort" (one man, one word).
We must not be fickle and change like the wind, saying one thing in the morning, but something different in the evening.
A study showed that if both parents attended church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only the father attend church, 55% remain faithful and if only the mother goes to church then only 15% remain faithful. If both father and mother don't attend church regularly then only 6% remain faithful. That shows the importance of being an example as a parent.
People can argue with what you say but they cannot argue with your life.
Andrew Murray was a blessed preacher who experienced revival in his church. But he faced great opposition even from within his own church. Some said that his standard for the lifestyle of a Christian was too high. They sent two people to be with him for two weeks after which they were to report back to their authorities. They reported back that what he preaches is only half what he lives. His life was more exemplarary than what he preached.
Martin Luther said of Nikolaus Hausmann, "what we preach, he lives".
Are you a true example? If not you bring a disgrace upon Christianity.
Some people just "phelezela" (Zulu for accompany); they are willing to go along with others but never lead by example. They drift with the crowd and are hangers-on.
Your life must stop accompanying everyone else and, lead by example. Show them by being an example of a true Christian.
What are you like? Do you show the others the right way?
During revivals there have been key truths which God used to break through and accomplish His marvelous work with a flood of power.
During the Reformation in the 16th century, where God used men like Luther, the Holy Spirit broke through with the revival of the truth of `justification by faith'.
God used that word to shake foundations and reveal His Almighty power. (It is awful when so-called Christians, in our generation, just ride along saying they are justified by faith but their lives are no different to the world.)
In the 18th century, in the revival where men like John Wesley were raised up by the Lord, the phrase that broke through was "perfect love". The truth of God's love and His ability to fill people with His love spread revival fire. Read 1Cor 13 and you will be amazed at the characteristics of Godly love. Perfect love also refers to the first love. Are you living in the first love you had when you got converted? Is it growing every day?
The love of God possessing your life is of greatest importance in serving the Lord, being a co-worker with Him.
Jesus asked Peter thrice "do you love Me? The Lord was more concerned about perfect love, "Agape love", controlling the life of a disciple who was to evangelize the world and shepherd His sheep.
If your service to God doesn't come from Agape love it will not stand the test of time.
What kind of love do you have? Is it the love of God? The Bible says as Jesus loved his disciples, He "loved them to the end". Even at the last meal Jesus called Judas Iscariot "friend" because of His love even for him.
Peter was confident that he would not forsake the Lord though all the others should forsake Him. But he denied the Lord in the heat of the battle.
Jesus said of the Pharisees, "all they teach, keep, but do not do as they do". There should not be a difference between what you do and what you say.
If it differs, then you are in the category of the hypocritical Pharisees.
When Jesus preached they realised that He was not like the Pharisees. He had authority, because he lived what he preached.
The seven sons of Sceva were impressed by Paul and were convinced that he had the true "theology". So they decided to exorcise an evil spirit "in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches". But the possessed man jumped upon them and they fled wounded and naked from that house. While he beat them he said, "Paul I know, and Jesus I know, but who are you."
The devil will play around with you if you do not live the Gospel.
To lead by example often provides the means God uses to come down in power. There is the story told of a communion service in an American church a long time ago. That Sunday was their celebration of the Lord's Supper and their practise was to have a single cup from which the communicants would drink. It was also the era of much racial tension. The first man to walk to the communion table, to the shock of the white congregation, was a black man. He drank from the cup. The rest of the church did not know what to do. Then, one young white man went forward, knelt next to the black man and drank from the same cup. In that instant, the "ice broke". The whole church was melted by this act, this example. They all followed suite and drank from the cup of the Lord.
Another example: A young Christian man had been conscripted into the army and it was his first night in the military bungelow with a lot of other new conscripts. He wrestled with the thought of whether he should kneel and read the Bible, as had been his practise till then. Finally, he bowed in obedience to the prompting of God's Spirit and knelt next to his bed to read the Bible and pray. The next moment, all the other conscripts were on their knees. God used the brave example of this young soldier to bring about a clear stand for the Lord.
At the beginning of the revival I felt moved to start and study the book of Acts. We read in the very first verse:
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach," (Acts 1:1).
What Jesus did and preached were in harmony. Before you open your mouth your life must speak. It is of no consequence what you say unless your life leads by example.
Getting engaged and married in purity must be clearly displayed. No nation or religion can resist the example of purity.
Through repentance and faith in Christ you can lead by example. You can show the Gospel to all the nations. What you do counts much more than what you say.