Walk this Way
Bible Reading: Philippians 3:12-21
Philippians 3:15-19, “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
Philippians 3:17 (Phillips paraphrase), “Let me be your example here, my brothers: let my example be the standard by which you can tell who are the genuine Christians among those about you.”
We tend to follow the example of others; be they parents or friends or celebrities. Imitating others can be a good thing, assuming their behavior is worthy of imitation. But if not, imitation of others can be disastrous. We live in a day that is typified by a shortage of folks whose lives are worth emulating. Hence the need to exercise discernment in those we look to follow.
Those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ should follow His example and imitate Him. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, is the best example for us to follow in every possible way—in the way we think, the way we walk, and the way we talk. He has set before us a pattern for life that is radically different from who we once were, or what we find in our world (Philippians 2:3-8).
False teachers had infiltrated the church in Philippi. They were doing a lot of barking about a way of religion that was contrary to what Paul had taught. Paul called them “dogs” and told the folks to beware (Philippians 3:2). Their manner of life was at odds with Christ’s example and with that of the Apostle Paul. So, Paul set forth himself and his life as a visible pattern to the church of what it looks like to truly follow Jesus. Paul was able to do that because he was walking in the footsteps of Christ. Just as He exhorted those in Corinth, saying: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
So how did Paul’s example differ from that of the false teachers? Paul embraced the cross, whereas the false teachers were its enemies (Philippians 3:18). He embraced it not just because it had worked to set him free from sin, he embraced it as a pattern to follow. He understood that we believers have been called to the same self-sacrificing manner of life that was revealed to us in Jesus (Philippians 1:21-24, 2:17, 3:10; Acts 20:33-35; Galatians 6:14).
Paul gloried “in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3), whereas the false teachers gloried in their shame (Philippians 3:19). The Apostle Paul clearly understood that his only claim to any measure of righteousness rested solely and completely in the person and work of Christ. He refused to take personal credit for anything, acknowledging that he was what he was “by the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:10). The false teachers, on the other hand, boasted in the sham of their supposed self-righteousness, their “shame.”
Paul had his sights set on heaven (Philippians 1:6, 10, 1:21, 1:23; 2:10-11, 2:13, 2:14; 3:20). The false teachers–on the other hand–were all about the here and now, having their minds “set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). They were like Demas, of whom the Scripture speaks, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:10). The deceivers loved the world too.
The Apostle Paul lived according to a Christ-centered, cross-centered, and heavenly-minded approach to life. The false teachers talked a good talk, but they were as sheep in wolves clothing. They put on a good show, but their end was “destruction” (Philippians 3:19). Their example was one to avoid at all costs. Paul’s, on the other hand, is one to cleave to. Our text likewise reminds us of the need we have to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus. A good question to ask is this: Is our life enough of an example that we would want others to pattern themselves after us? What must be altered to answer affirmatively?
NEAR THE CROSS
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me. [Refrain]
Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me. [Refrain]
Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river. [Refrain]