Christian Imitation Pleasing to God
Some years ago, when I was on holiday with my young children, I became aware that one of them was walking really awkwardly, rolling from side to side in an exaggerated fashion, and with more than a slight limp. It only took a few moments to then notice that an older lady was walking along just a few yards in front of us in exactly the same fashion. How children love to imitate adults!
The Christian disciple, walking through life following Jesus, has a desire to walk just like the One walking along in front.
If that is you, think this week how you can please God by imitation!
v 2. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.
After experiencing considerable opposition in Philippi, (Acts 16) and a public beating and imprisonment into the bargain, Paul moved on to Thessalonica. (Acts 17) On almost all of his missionary journeys we find him first seeking out the local Jewish population, as he does here, so he spent 3 sabbaths preaching in the local synagogue. A congregation of believers was established, but as happened on some other occasions, he met with jealousy and violent opposition from many in the Jewish community. The resulting mob violence was dealt with by the civil magistrates after some kind of financial bond was lodged by one of Paul’s supporters.
Bad experiences of this kind never stopped Paul from preaching the Good News. God had called him to cross into Greece – his first move into Europe – (Acts 16:9-10) and God gave him the courage to persevere in the work to which he had been called.
This God-given courage to stick at a task in spite of opposition is a most encouraging life-quality. Persecution and difficulty are not however very prominent matters in the experience of many of us. What causes many to give up on a task is quite different. It is usually the lure of something else such as a personal hobby or a desire for more time for ourselves and entertainment or sport. Work for God is more often abandoned for selfish reasons than outward pressure. It is not so much that courage is required but rather strength of will in the face of competing personal desires.
Pray for personal stickability when it comes to serving God.