As Christians, we are called to be an example and set a Godly standard for others to follow. The Bible tells us in numerous places that we should live our lives in a way that reflects Christ and brings glory to God. In doing so, we can positively influence those around us and point them towards the truth.
Being an example starts with having the right mindset and motivation. We shouldn’t live righteously just for show or to make ourselves look good. Rather, we should have a sincere desire to honor God and obey His Word. Our actions should stem from a transformed heart that seeks to serve God, not self.
When our mindset is right, the way we live will follow suit. But being an example involves more than just avoiding obvious sins. It means actively pursuing holiness and excellence in every area of life. Here are some key takeaways on what it means to be an example to others:
- Have integrity and consistency between your beliefs and behavior
- Pursue moral purity and flee from sin
- Treat others with love, kindness and compassion
- Work hard and seek excellence in your vocation
- Use words that build up rather than tear down
- Forgive others freely as God has forgiven you
- Steward resources wisely for God’s glory
- Serve God and others with your time and talents
The rest of this article will expand on each of these principles. My prayer is that God will use these words to encourage you and challenge you to walk worthy of your calling in Christ.
Have Integrity and Consistency
One of the most important ways to be an example is by having integrity and consistency between what you say you believe and how you actually live. Put simply, you need to walk the talk. Your life should align with your stated values and beliefs as a Christian. As James 1:22 (NKJV) says:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
It’s easy to “talk the talk” when it comes to our faith. But are we actively living out the teachings of Jesus on a daily basis? Do our actions match our words?
People are watching closely. If there are glaring inconsistencies between your beliefs and behavior, it will hamper your witness and example to others. You may even cause people to reject Christianity or become cynical towards it.
That’s why it’s crucial to have integrity and consistency. Consider some areas where this needs to be fleshed out:
Word and Deed: You say you believe Jesus calls us to serve the poor and needy. But do you actually spend time volunteering or giving to meet practical needs? Are you engaged within your community? Or do you only know how to talk theoretically about serving others without doing it? Your actions must back up your words.
Work Ethic: You say you believe work has inherent value as worship unto the Lord. But do you actually work with excellence on the job? Or are you constantly showing up late, procrastinating projects, and doing merely average work? Your work ethic should reflect your beliefs.
Speech: You say the tongue has the power of life and death and that Christians should avoid gossip. But do you refrain from gossiping yourself? Do you speak words that tear down or build up? A loose tongue betrays flawed integrity.
Purity: You say the Bible calls Christians to moral purity and fleeing sexual sin. But do you guard your eyes and mind from lustful thoughts? Do you maintain healthy boundaries with the opposite gender? Your actions must align.
In all things, we are called to integrity and godly consistency. Our outward life should match our inward professed faith if we want to be a true example. Examine any areas of inconsistency and ask God to help align your life fully with His truth.
Pursue Moral Purity
In addition to integrity, being an example means actively pursuing moral purity and fleeing from sin. Sadly, many Christians have grown apathetic towards sin. Some blatantly struggle with addictions like pornography while others harbor secret jealousy and greed.
As believers, we must reestablish a hatred of sin and recommit to pursuing holiness. Scripture gives many exhortations such as:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV)
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV)
Here are some practical tips on pursuing moral purity:
Guard Your Heart: Sin begins in the heart and mind. Carefully guard what you allow yourself to see, hear, and think about. Set a filter for internet content, be careful in conversations, and take thoughts captive that lead down dark roads.
Flee Temptation: Don’t flirt with sin and put yourself in tempting situations. If specific places, relationships, or activities trip you up, run the other way! Avoid compromise and remove stumbling blocks.
Confess Regularly: Bring sins into the light before God and trusted believers. Hidden sins thrive in secrecy. Maintain a clean conscience through confession and repentance.
Study Scripture: Immersing your mind in God’s Word renews it and creates a hatred of sin. Scripture arms you to battle temptation.
Accept Grace: Rest in God’s grace when you stumble, but don’t use it as an excuse for low standards. Let Christ’s forgiveness motivate you towards deeper holiness.
Seek Accountability: Allow other believers to ask you hard questions and challenge areas of spiritual growth. Accountability provides strength to stand firm.
Depend on Christ: Recognize you can’t be pure in your own strength. Rely on Jesus continually and stay connected to the Vine. Abide in Christ!
As we pursue moral purity and flee from sin, our lives shine brighter and point clearly towards the hope found in Jesus. Do not become complacent towards sin!
Treat Others with Love
Treating others with Christlike love and compassion is central to being an example. The world is watching how we, as believers, interact with people. When we show unusual love, patience, kindness, and selflessness, it makes an impression.
Jesus said people would know we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35). And Scripture calls us to:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
How can we treat others with greater love? Here are some applications:
- Listen Attentively: Give people your full attention without distractions when they speak. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk.
- Serve Selflessly: Look to meet practical needs and serve without expecting anything in return. Don’t act obligated or complain.
- Give Generously: Share your time, resources, and possessions to help others. Don’t be selfish, stingy, or biased.
- Extend Mercy: Assume the best of others. Be quick to forgive offenses big and small. Offer compassion before judgment.
- Speak Truth: Talk to others directly rather than about them. Don’t misuse your words. Speak truth with grace.
- Include Intentionally: Make efforts to welcome others from all walks of life, especially those marginalized. Inclusivity shows Christ’s love.
- Honor Humility: Esteem others above yourself. Don’t think you are superior. Have a humble mindset like Jesus.
As we grow in showing Christlike love, our Christian witness will carry much greater weight. People should see Jesus’ description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 fleshed out in our lives. This brings glory to God.
Work Hard and Pursue Excellence
Our daily work is another area where we must be an example of biblical principles. Scripture talks a lot about working hard, serving faithfully, pursuing excellence, and working with a positive attitude.
For example, Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) says:
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men
And Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV) says:
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
Far too many Christians have adopted a mediocre mindset towards work and vocation. We show up late, leave early, and do the bare minimum to get by. But this is unbiblical and undermines our witness.
Imagine the impression left if believers were known for strong work ethic, positivity, excellence, and high character on the job! It could revolutionize our evangelistic impact in the professional world.
Here are ways to be a work example:
- Work hard with all your might holding nothing back
- Treat your work as worship unto God
- Pursue excellence. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
- Maintain integrity and ethics. No sketchy shortcuts.
- Have a cheerful attitude. Be a bright light.
- Treat colleagues respectfully. No gossip or slander.
- Manage time well. Be dependable and punctual.
- Do work with skill, creativity, and initiative.
- Be prepared to go above and beyond when needed
- Keep learning and growing your skills
Be careful not to compartmentalize your faith from your work. Bring your full, authentic Christian self into your job and demonstrate Christlike character in all you do. This strong example will open doors for the Gospel.
Steward Resources Wisely
Christians are called to be wise stewards of the resources God blesses us with – whether money, possessions, talents, or intellectual gifts. We should hold material things loosely and use what we’ve been given for God’s glory rather than to feed our selfish desires.
Proverbs 13:11 says:
Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, But whoever gathers little by little will increase. (NKJV)
And 1 Corinthians 4:2 says:
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (NKJV)
Far too many Christians live indistinguishably from the world when it comes to finances and material things. We remain in debt buying things we desire while giving mere leftovers to God’s work. But this is poor stewardship!
To be a wise stewardship example:
- Spend less than you earn and avoid debt. Live within your means.
- Establish a budget and manage money intentionally. Track spending.
- Set aside for the future. Don’t just live for now.
- Give regularly, generously, and even sacrificially to ministry.
- Consider purchases carefully. Avoid waste and impulse buys.
- Invest excess into eternal things rather than just earthly things.
- Use material things to serve others. Don’t just consume on yourself.
- Hold possessions loosely. Don’t clutch them tightly.
Our financial lives must be aligned with biblical principles if we want to be godly examples. As stewards, we manage resources entrusted to us by God. We should handle them wisely.
Use Words to Build Up
Our words carry incredible power – power to build up or to destroy. That’s why Scripture tells believers:
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29 NKJV)
There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. (Proverbs 12:18 NKJV)
How we speak should reflect the new creation we’ve become in Christ, not the corrupt patterns of the world. Far too often, Christian speech is nearly indistinguishable from unbelievers – complaining, insulting, gossiping, embellishing, etc. This undermines our witness!
To be an example with our words we must:
- Speak only what is wholesome, useful and edifying
- Refrain from gossip, slander, or speaking behind someone’s back
- Avoid exaggeration or embellishing stories for effect
- Make an effort to offer words of encouragement and affirmation
- Think carefully before voicing criticism. Do so constructively.
- Share our struggles and burdens rather than masking them
- Speak humbly about our accomplishments without boasting
- Proclaim truth but with gentleness rather than harshness
- Challenge others respectfully by asking questions rather than giving answers
Just as Christ’s words carried weight and authority, our words should point clearly to Him. We must represent the savior well by speaking as He would speak – with truth, wisdom, and grace.
Forgive Others Freely
Forgiving others is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to be an example of godly love. While forgiveness may not always be easy, it’s a virtue we must pursue.
Jesus didn’t just teach radical forgiveness – He demonstrated it on the cross crying out “Father forgive them!” We’re called to follow His example.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
Unforgiveness poisons our soul and hinders our relationship with God. And it’s unattractive in light of the vast mercy we’ve received in Christ!
To walk in forgiveness:
- Forgive quickly when wronged rather than holding onto offenses
- Let go of bitterness, resentment, and the desire for revenge
- Respond in love rather than anger when hurt
- Refrain from gossiping or smearing those who hurt you
- Pray blessing over those who persecute you
- Consider your own failings and need for grace
- Trust God’s sovereignty and justice when people go unpunished
- Seek reconciliation where possible but don’t force it
- If needed, release an offense over to God rather than demanding payment
While showing grace takes humility and dying to self, it’s liberating! And it testifies to the redemptive forgiveness we have through the cross. What a powerful evangelistic example for others to follow.
Serve God and Others
If we claim Jesus as Lord, serving Him and others should be central in our lives. Sadly, many Christians feel “busy” but aren’t truly serving God or meeting tangible needs. We must re-orient ourselves towards action and service.
Scripture reminds us:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)
You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:13-15 NIV)
Here are some key ways we can follow Jesus’ servant example:
- Identify gifts/passions: How has God uniquely gifted you? What areas stir your heart? Your service starts there.
- Address real needs: Look around your community and the world. Seek to serve in practical ways. Don’t just offer good intentions.
- Give sacrificially: Following Jesus means sacrificing time and comfort. Don’t merely serve within your convenience.
- Serve from love: Serve with joy as worship to God. Don’t grumble and complain along the way.
- Remain humble: Don’t serve to boost your ego. Keep low and lift others up.
- Persevere: Don’t quit when it gets tough. Servanthood takes grit and resolve.
- Work with others: Serve alongside others in the church. We can do more together.
- Step out in faith: Take risks to serve in new ways. Trust God to provide and equip.
Ask the Spirit to guide your steps into greater works of service. Say yes when God prompts your heart – whether through a missions trip, helping a widow in need, or volunteering at a homeless shelter. As Christ’s example of servanthood inspires us, we live it out. This brings glory to Him.
My friends, I hope this deep dive on being an example challenges and equips you. Living worthy of our calling in Christ honors Him and advances the Kingdom. While we will stumble at times, God’s grace propels us forward.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus – the ultimate model and trailblazer of biblical living. By His power at work within us, we can represent our Savior well. And through our earned reputation, point many to the foot of His cross.
Let’s go out and be the examples this world desperately needs.