What examples are you really following?

What examples are you really following?

All of us follow the example of others, even if we don’t actively mean to. Children adopt mannerisms that their parents have. Teenagers dress the same as their friends. Houses in the same street tend to present in a similar way to one another. We take our cue from what we see around us.

Sometimes, of course, this following of examples is more intentional. Fans of particular bands wear similar clothes and are passionate about the same things. Apprentices try to follow the example of their mentors.

This following of examples can be a very good thing or a very bad thing. We see the negative side of this illustrated for us in the life of King Manasseh of Judah in 2 Kings 21. The writer of Kings points out to us that the depravity of this evil king was based on the example of others who came before him. Manasseh modelled his kingdom on the behaviour of the people who lived in the land of Canaan before it was settled by the Israelites (v1, 9). He erected altars to Baal and Sherah like King Ahab had done many generations beforehand in the northern kingdom (v3). He burnt his son as an offering, as his grandfather Ahaz did (v6). He dealt with necromancers and mediums as King Saul famously did (v6). Manasseh was not unique in any of this, except perhaps in putting all of these evil elements together and ramping them up. All that he did had been done before to some degree. He followed a series of terrible examples.

Manasseh did have better examples to follow. He could have looked at what his father, good King Hezekiah did. He could have listened to the promises God had recorded in his word (as mentioned in v7-8). He could have emulated David or Solomon in his early years. Yet he turned from all of these to seek what the wider culture followed.

All of us follow all kinds of examples when it comes to how we live our lives. None of us are the independent trend-setters we might like to think we are. Who influences you the most? Look at your life and think about this. Is it your parents? Is it the worldview you watch on TV? Is it your workplace? It is not only teenagers that are influenced by peer pressure!

Take the time to consider the examples you should be following. Do you know your Bibles enough to know when it speaks to the issues you are facing right now? Are there those in your church family that raise children in a way you think it worth learning from for your children? Look for good examples of godly living; there are there, if only you would look for them.

Paul often urged his readers to follow his example in their lives. There is something powerful in learning from a more mature Christian, even with their sinful natures and limitations. Actively look to learn from the best examples; we all need to grow in our godliness, and this is a great place to start.