God is our Father (Eph. 4:6). As His children we are to grow to be more like Him, as Paul wrote, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” (Eph. 5:1). Jesus has shown us how to be like our Father: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (Jn. 1:18). Jesus said to Philip, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).
My children are of the age where they are learning to write letters and numbers. My refrigerator has many of their papers on it with the example of how to write these characters at the top and their scribbles underneath it as they attempt to copy the example above. First Peter 2:21 says Jesus left us an example that we should follow his steps; in this verse “example” is from a Greek word upogrammos—literally “write under” used to refer to the pattern or the writing copy much like those at the top of my children’s worksheets. In the context of 1 Peter 2:21, Jesus set an example of suffering patiently for God. I do not like suffering. I do not know very many who do. However, the more I follow the perfect pattern of Jesus the closer my life can be conformed to his, and the letters I am writing every day of my life will look more like the writing copy of the Lord Jesus Christ who is placed above me as my example.
Paul tried to conform His life to Jesus and by example encouraged others to as well. To the Corinthians, he wrote, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Indeed, Paul no longer lived his own life, but endeavored to live as Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21). Paul was sending Timothy, his son in the Gospel, to the Corinthians to remind them of his ways which were in Christ which he taught everywhere in every congregation of the Lord’s church (1 Cor. 4:17).
Paul further encouraged Timothy to be an example to others of the life Christ would have us to live. When he left Timothy in Ephesus he wrote to him this charge: “…be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Our example “in word” means the language we use should distinguish us from the world as children of God (cf. Eph. 4:29, 31). Our conversation, i.e. our conduct, must be fitting of one who is a member of the family of God; Timothy was earlier taught in the epistle how he should behave himself in the household of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Charity, i.e. love, is the motivation for a life that reflects our Father; God is love, and those who are His children are loved and love others as He loves (1 Jn. 4:7-21). The spirit, i.e. character, of a Christian ought to involve power to overcome, love toward others, and a disciplined mind (2 Tim. 1:7). The child of God should exhibit faith—fidelity toward God and His truth. And finally, a Christian must have purity of life. To show self-control in all realms including sexual purity was a critical matter for Timothy and is for all Christians, especially the young (cf. 1 Tim. 5:2).
Our conduct shows who our father is, whether it is the devil or God (Jn. 8:42-44). Are you living in such a way that others know your Father is in heaven and glorify Him because of your conduct (Mt. 5:16)?