The Perfect Example

By Leslie Burton

Verses To Read:

Before I was a mom, I had all these ideas in my head about the type of mom I would be, the actions I would take, and the things I would say. However, when I became a mom nearly 12 years ago now, I quickly realized what I knew about being a parent was… well… absolutely nothing. As a new mom, I was exhausted and overwhelmed, but at least parenting felt simpler then—figure out why they’re crying, then feed them, diaper them, put them to sleep. Then came the next-level parenting; you know, when the kids have their own emotions and opinions and meltdowns. In this stage of parenting, (which I’ve realized is here to stay) I quickly felt lost and in need of all the help and advice I could get my hands on.

Naturally, I started reading ALL the parenting books. In hindsight, this was a bad idea. However, all those ‘self-help’ parenting books lead me to one common theme: children don’t learn by listening to all our teaching (or yelling). They learn by watching what we do. How can I tell my daughters to be patient, and then turn right around and let them see me honk at the woman walking in the crosswalk at Target? How can I tell my daughters to be generous, but when we pass the bell ringers at Christmastime, I tell them to not make eye contact? My daughters are more likely to do what they see me do, not what they hear me say unless I also back it up with my actions. The same goes for us as Christians.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus Himself tells us Christians are to be the light of the world. He says no one would light a candle and then hide it under a bowl or a basket; that just wouldn’t make sense. Besides that, a flame needs oxygen to maintain itself. If you put it under a basket or a bowl and it didn’t get any more oxygen, it would snuff out. Therefore, we are to be a bright light that people around us can’t miss.

However well intended, as Christians we can often get into a habit of telling the world how Christians should act or telling the world how they should be following Jesus. Have you ever considered how much more of an impact we might make if instead of telling people how to follow Jesus, we showed them? Jesus himself came to earth to do just that, to be our perfect example. Did He preach to crowds of people? Yes. But His words didn’t fall flat because he led by example. Jesus came to show us how to love our enemy even when they betray us, how to have a faith that stands strong in the face of impossible circumstances, how to care for those in need, how to be generous, how to worship, and most importantly, how to love. With the upcoming new year, we are often tempted to set goals for making changes to better ourselves. My challenge for each of us is that we would make it our goal to not simply tell people about Jesus, but show people how to follow Jesus with everything we do.

Questions To Consider:

1. What are some ways you already feel like you’re showing God’s love to others around you? How are others seeing the light of Jesus through you?

2. What are some new ways (big or small) you can challenge yourself in the new year to make Christ’s love evident to the rest of the world?

Prayer to Pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Jesus. Thank you that when I am in need of an example to follow, you’ve already provided the perfect example in Jesus. Lord, help me to model my actions after Him. Help me to love my community by the actions I take and not just in the words I speak. Lord, I pray that this new year would be full of opportunities to point people to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.