PHILIPPIANS 3:17 – Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
THEME OF THE DAY. KEEP CHRIST-CENTERED COMPANY. In today’s scripture, the Apostle Paul instructs the Philippian believers to do two things. First, he tells them to imitate him – “Brothers, join in imitating me.” Seems rather bold, doesn’t it? Maybe a little prideful? Neither. The greatest Christian who ever lived would only exhort such imitation if he were walking close to the Lord Jesus and he was. He would say in another portion of scripture, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). And what the Apostle says to these believers in Philippi and Corinth should be something we strive for also. Our goal is fully to live the Christian life and so that we, too, might say to another Christian – “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” That isn’t arrogant or drawing attention to ourselves. It is modeling the Christian life as an example.
The second instruction the Apostle Paul gives is “keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” He now extends the model of Christian living to follow to other believers. Obviously, his words “keep your eyes” on other believers who are worthy of imitation isn’t just observing them. Discipleship is observation AND application. And the application part of this may be our association with other Christians. If we are going to “keep our eyes” on other believers as models, let’s make sure they are the right models.
We must be selective in the company we keep – even among Christians. Befriend gossiping, criticizing, slandering, judging, and negative Christians, and we will become like them. Befriend godly, Christ-centered, always edifying, self-denying, and wholesome speaking Christians, and we will become like them. It is true – we will become like the company we keep. But there is another application when it comes to the company we keep and model. Ensure they are Christians who walk in the fear of the Lord. In the Old Testament book of Malachi, we have a wonderful illustration of good Christian fellowship with Christ-centered believers. We read – Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name (Malachi 3:16). And if I were asked to characterize Christians who fear the Lord, I would immediately respond with “They pray. They are praying people who seek the Lord privately and with other Christians.” The picture of fellowship Malachi paints between God’s people and Himself implies prayer – “The Lord paid attention and heard them.”
If we are to be good models for other Christians to follow, then be careful the type of Christians we choose as our company. Ensure they are Christ-seekers, walking in His fear, practicing prayer, and walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. If we do, their good example will influence us for much spiritual good.
PRAYER: “Father, show me how important it is to keep company with Your people walking close to You.”
QUOTE: “You keep company with worldly Christians. You will become one. Who you befriend will influence you.”