I was really struck with Paul’s statement to Timothy. It sent me back to two verses about Paul. 1 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
2 Timothy 4:10 Amplified says, “Now you have closely observed and diligently followed my teaching, conduct, purpose in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastness.” Who observes your life this closely?
Paul used the Lord as His model, pattern, and example. We influence others through who or what we imitate. Think of 1 Corinthians 15:33. It is in the negative sense. It says, “Do not be deceived: Evil communication corrupts good habits.”
We need to choose wise friends, those whose lives are a living example of Jesus. I want to surround myself with those who are striving through their fleshly reactions, to press into Jesus. That is why I read biographies and autobiographies. I want to see how they handled their adversities.
Paul said in Philippians 3:13 that he was choosing to forget the things from his past. I love this verse. Our empowerment comes through forgetting by letting go. Watch the progression of Paul’s words. They remind me of a trapeze artist.
Verses 13-14 say, “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” These two verses are the enactment of our progressive sanctification. We never arrive. Our faith is always being stretched and tested. As well it is constantly opposed through myriad ways the enemy of our soul implements.
The Lord uses our trials to prove that our faith is genuine. We may say that we have fellowship with the Lord. 1 John 2:6 is our mandate. It says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
That is a tall order that is impossible to fill in our flesh. Remembering that our flesh profits nothing, we need to shun all its overtures. They are satan’s lure-suggestions. We died to sin! Romans 6:1-2 is a great declaration that we can live and breathe in.
It says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Verse 12 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Think of the word ‘lust’ as suggestive sinful overtures. They are fiery darts that are lobbed to destroy our faith.
We forget by letting go, and at the same time we are constantly reaching forward through all opposition. The trapeze artist keeps their eyes on the goal. They have to let go of the first bar in order to have the momentum they need for the oncoming bar. They cannot hold on or it would be disastrous.
Let us follow Paul’s example. Others are watching. They want to know how you are processing your trials. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Jesus is our Excellent Example. Let us keep our eyes on Him.