One of the functions of the body of Christ is the opportunity to encourage and build up each other. And one of the best ways to do this is through our righteous living and the example it sets. The theme of being an example and following an example is a prominent one in the New Testament.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Phil 3:17).
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation and with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (I Thess 1:6-7).
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; not because we did not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example” (I Thess 3:7-9).
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example to those who believe” (I Tim 4:12)
“In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, and sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (Titus 2:7-8).
We often sell ourselves short in the area of setting an example with a false humility that says, “I am not worthy to be an example.” If you really feel that way, then you have some work to do. First, knock off the bad stuff! Does that sound blunt and insensitive? The New Testament writers use this kind of language over and over. “Stop… Abstain… Quit… Put off… Lay aside… the sin that trips us up. It does not fit our new identity.”
Second, you have the power to do it. Sin is no longer your master. So if you feel unworthy to be an example, do something about it. Live into your new identity and all that goes with it. Then find someone to encourage and lift up by your example. You will be glad you did.