What Does the Bible Say About Being an Example?

The Bible has a lot to say about being an example and setting a godly standard for others to follow. As Christians, we are called to live our lives in such a way that points others towards Christ through our words, actions, and overall conduct. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the key Bible verses about being an example and how we can live this out practically in our daily lives.


As followers of Jesus Christ, we are representatives of Him in this world. Our lives are no longer our own, but rather we belong to God and are called to glorify Him through how we live (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Being an example is not about perfection or legalism, but rather it’s about exemplifying the Fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When our lives are characterized by godly traits, it makes the Gospel message more believable and attractive to non-believers. As the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV):

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Being an example involves both our personal conduct and how we interact with others in the Body of Christ. It’s about living in community and spurring each other on towards Christ-likeness.

Overall, here are 5 key things the Bible teaches about being an example:

  1. We are to be imitators of Christ and follow godly examples ourselves
  2. Our lives should reflect the Fruits of the Spirit
  3. We must guard our conduct and be blameless and pure
  4. We are to shine as lights and live wisely among non-believers
  5. We should serve one another humbly and model Christ-centered community

In the rest of this post, we will unpack each of these key points in more detail with supporting Bible passages. Let’s dive in!

What Does the Bible Say About Being an Example?

We Are To Be Imitators of Christ and Follow Godly Examples Ourselves

As Christians, our primary example is Jesus Christ. We are called to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:6) and imitate Him in our attitudes, thoughts, and actions.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul says:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

Paul was exhorting the Corinthian church to follow his example, just as he followed after Christ. This indicates that we can and should imitate other godly people who are setting the right example. Of course, we must be discerning and recognize that no one is perfect except Jesus. But there are many faithful followers of Christ from whom we can learn.

In Hebrews 6:11-12, the writer of Hebrews encourages us:

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

We are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” from believers past and present (Hebrews 12:1). While our ultimate model is Jesus, God also places other mentors and examples into our lives to spur us on towards maturity. We would be wise to observe how seasoned Christians live out their faith and apply those lessons to our own walk with Christ.

As you strive to be an example for others, be sure that you yourself are following examples of faithful believers who reflect the heart of Jesus.

Our Lives Should Reflect the Fruits of the Spirit

One of the clearest ways we can be an example to others is by demonstrating the Fruits of the Spirit in our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

These godly qualities should be increasingly evident in the lives of believers as we grow in our relationship with Jesus. When our lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, it will set us apart from the world in a beautiful way.

People around us are not just listening to our words, but watching our lives. The saying “actions speak louder than words” is very true when it comes to being an example. Our Christ-like attitudes and behaviors can speak volumes.

Consider these powerful verses:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13 NKJV)

For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV)

When we exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit, it makes the Gospel taste and smell good to those around us. Our Christlike example can draw people to want to know Jesus for themselves.

So make it a daily goal to grow in godly qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control. Ask the Holy Spirit to cultivate His fruit in your life. Your example will shine brightly to the world around you.

We Must Guard Our Conduct and Be Blameless and Pure

Being an example means we also have to be careful to guard our testimony and maintain a blameless witness. The way we live really matters!

As believers, we are Christ’s ambassadors here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent Him and His kingdom in all that we do. That means we must be thoughtful and intentional about our conduct so that we don’t bring shame to the name of Jesus.

The apostle Paul said:

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NKJV)

Paul was fully aware that his life was under scrutiny. He was careful to avoid anything that might be a stumbling block and prevent people from coming to salvation.

As followers of Jesus, we too must walk in wisdom and seek to live above reproach. What we do in private and in public matters. Our integrity, honesty and moral conduct impact how people see Christ reflected through us.

The apostle Peter reminds us:

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV)

By living upright, moral lives, we can actually cause those who insult us to eventually give glory to God! Our example speaks volumes. Therefore, we must guard our hearts and live above reproach by God’s grace.

We Are To Shine as Lights and Live Wisely Among Non-Believers

In addition to guarding our own conduct, being an example means we need to intentionally influence the world around us for Christ. Jesus taught that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are called to season the society around us with His flavors and shine His light in the darkness through good works.

The apostle Paul said:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV)

We must be wise and make the most of every opportunity to exemplify Christ to non-believers, without conforming to the world’s patterns (Romans 12:2). This can look like:

  • Doing honest work and not complaint – Being obedient citizens and engaging government constructively (see Jeremiah 29:7, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17)
  • Speaking gracefully and with care – Avoiding coarse joking and crude talk (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4)
  • Pursuing excellence in education, family, and vocation for God’s glory
  • Supporting and honoring laws and authorities even when we disagree
  • Raising children diligently in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Using finances, gifts and abilities to advance God’s Kingdom

As we walk in Spirit-led wisdom, it allows us to shine as bright examples before unbelievers. Our hope is that they would see our integrity and good works and give glory to God, putting their trust in Christ.

Be prayerful about the situations God has placed you in – your neighborhood, workplace, school, family, sports team, civic organizations etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to be salt and light in those environments for God’s greater purposes. Don’t compromise your witness, but look for opportunities to creatively bless others. Your influence as an example can make an eternal impact.

We Should Serve One Another Humbly and Model Christ-Centered Community

Finally, being an example is not just about our individual conduct but also how we live in Christian community. The world is watching how we treat one another in the Body of Christ. When they observe believers loving, serving and honoring each other, it makes the Gospel even more attractive.

Jesus said our love and unity would be a powerful witness to the reality of our faith:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV)

We are members of one body and called to lay down our lives for one another, just as Jesus sacrificially loved us (1 John 3:16). As we serve humbly, bear one another’s burdens, extend grace and forgiveness, and encourage each other on to maturity, it demonstrates the supernatural love of Christ to the world around us.

The apostle Paul provides a beautiful picture of Christ-centered community in Romans 12:9-18. He challenges believers to:

  • Let love be without hypocrisy
  • Cling to what is good
  • Be devoted and honor one another
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
  • Share with the needs of saints, pursue hospitality
  • Bless those who persecute you and do not repay evil for evil
  • Live peaceably with all as much as possible

As we grow in modeling this kind of biblical community that reflects Jesus’ heart, it will be a bright light before a watching world. Our homes, churches and relationships should point clearly to the reconciling Gospel that rescues sinners and unites them in Christ.

So be encouraged that your example within the Body of Christ matters tremendously for impacting outsiders. Press on in building gracious, hope-filled communities that shine with the brilliance of our Savior’s love and grace.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Being an example to others as a follower of Jesus is a noble and impactful calling. The way we live each day, at home, work, school, church and in our neighborhood matters tremendously for the Kingdom. Our lives should point people to the hope, grace, and transforming power of Christ.

Here are the key takeaways from what the Bible teaches about being an example:

  • We are to imitate Jesus Christ and follow godly examples ourselves
  • Our lives should increasingly reflect the Fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
  • We must guard our conduct and strive to live blamelessly and purely as Christ’s ambassadors
  • We are called to shine as lights in this world by living wisely and creatively blessing those around us
  • We should love and serve one another humbly in Christ-centered community that displays God’s grace

It’s a high calling to be an imitator of Jesus in this lost world. But by His strength and for His glory, we can walk worthy of our calling as children of light. Our lives can point others to experience the amazing grace we have found in our Savior.

May we passionately pursue Christ-likeness in all that we do, living as shining examples that reflect His goodness and truth. Lord, help us to model Your heart of compassion, justice and humility in our spheres of influence. Make us faithful ambassadors of Your Kingdom every day. For Your glory we pray, Amen.

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