Do we realize how important our example is to others? Not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk? Not just to walk in our own footsteps, but to walk as Christ walked, when He was here on earth as a human being? To follow the example He gave for us? And, do we realize how our negative example can have a detrimental effect on others, including someone in the Church, especially newer members?
I recently read a book on the history of the Church of God and the trials and severe persecution the members faced, sometimes even to their death. In the Middle Ages, one of the groups began to allow Sunday worshippers to fellowship and meet with those who continued to keep the Sabbath. Rather than turning these worshippers to the Sabbath, the opposite occurred. Sabbath-keepers began to water down their own doctrines and within a few years, they were scattered to the four winds. This only illustrates the importance of maintaining doctrinal purity and the danger of doctrinal compromise or “tolerance.” Rather, we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Christ–whether it be in our appearance, our verbal communication or our conduct inside and outside Church services and functions.
The barrel of good apples will not make a rotten one better. Quite the opposite occurs. In order to prevent good apples from becoming rotten, one has to remove the bad apple. Like a rotten apple, a rebellious, divisive and openly sinning member may have to be removed for his or her own good, as change and repentance may be the result (compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). But until that time, such a person must be prevented from corrupting the rest by his or her presence and wrong conduct.
If we discover that we have a computer virus, we will need to make every effort to have it eradicated as quickly as possible. We don’t just ignore it, hoping it will go away. We know that if we don’t deal with the problem, it will totally corrupt our whole computer, making it dysfunctional.
Telling a child, “Do as I say, not as I do!”, just doesn’t cut it with God, since we are to follow the example set by Christ in all that we do. We are to analyze first, before watching something, doing something or saying something, what Christ would do in this situation. And then, we are to decide to follow Christ’s example, instead of our own reasoning. This will have a profound positive effect on those we come in contact with, including our fellow brethren.
We are accountable for the things we say and do, and one day, we will have to give account to Christ. This fact alone should make us more cognizant of not just talking the talk, but walking the walk–the godly walk of following the example of Jesus Christ.