The Book of Acts begins, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). Our Lord Jesus Christ practiced God’s will and then taught men to do likewise. While we cannot be sinless as the Savior, we must be doers of God’s word if our teaching is to be effective.
Paul said to his converts in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7:
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
Paul’s life was not lived in sin and selfishness, but rather in moral integrity and sincerity before God. As a result, his converts in Thessalonica imitated his example, which in reality was emulating the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:1). By extension, the Thessalonian converts became examples to saints in Macedonia and Achaia. They were teaching others by their example.
When we talk to people about the gospel, the church, or what Christ means to us, we hope they will convert to Christ. The converts we make will naturally follow our example. Do people look at our lives and see only the talk of Christianity, or do they notice our genuine walk in the light of Christ’s word? Genuine disciples of Christ instruct others with their lives as well as their words.
The world is looking at Christians. Hypocrites among God’s people have given ammunition to those outside of His flock to criticize the people of God. People try to pigeon hole a whole group by one among them who is not behaving right. It is not fair; it won’t be an acceptable excuse to God in judgment; however, it is reality. Let’s not give any occasion for people to dismiss Christians as hypocrites because of the way we live our lives.
The word “examples” (NKJV) in 1 Thessalonians 1:7 comes from a word that means to strike an imprint. The Thessalonians probably did not realize how much they were an example to those in Macedonia and Achaia, so that’s why Paul tells them they made an imprint. We often don’t realize how much our example influences others; we make an imprint. The same word is found in John 20:25 to describe the print of the nails in Jesus’ hands. Has Jesus made an imprint on our lives? Are we crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20)? Can the world see the print of Jesus in us? We will make an imprint on others by the way we live. What will that imprint show?