Meditations by John Dean

Monday, March 11, 2013

Imitating Christ

(Proverbs 1:8 KJV) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 

Time has a way of challenging the values that one learned as a child. As a matter of fact, one’s values are not firmly rooted and established until they are challenged and one has the opportunity to stand up for what they have been taught. As harsh as that may seem, one does not know where they really stand on an issue until they are faced with the opposing viewpoint.

Many times, our instructions (particularly from the elderly) are accompanied by stories like the parables that Jesus used in His teachings. Older folks love to teach by telling stories of their past experiences in life.

 A father, on the other hand, usually teaches through instructions or directing. In the case of our text, the child not only learns from what the father is saying, but also by watching what the father is doing. Even though our text did not actually say that the child learns by watching their father…we know it is true because teaching through watching was a Jewish tradition and therefore it was understood. For example, Paul says “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV). That means that learning is imitating what the father does as well as what the father says.

Mothers on the other hand are more interested in building character in their child. Perhaps that is why our text said that one should, “forsake not the law of thy mother.” Conquering life and overcoming its obstacles are taught by the father and usually speak of a continual series of short range accomplishments. Building character on the other hand (which is taught by the mother), is what is needed to sustain the victories. For a child to be balanced in their training they must learn to both conquer life and have the character to sustain it.

When I was growing up East Texas I had the privilege of living in many wonderful homes and therefore I had many wonderful moms and dads. I realize that is not what God had in mind for the family unit. However He did use each of my circumstances to prepare me for my future life as a minister. Looking back, I can honestly see God’s hand in all of it and therefore I feel blessed for each home experience. The varied lessons I learned in each home would prove to be a vital part of my future.

Because I have always been extremely observant, I see things that most people do not see. I watched intently what each of the men (dads) did and therefore I still use those same principles to this very day.

I also watched and listened intently to all the things the mothers taught me on the principles (law) of character. Even though I did not apply those lessons at the time, they were firmly planted in me…and I still remember them. I am fairly sure that each of those moms forgot what they taught me soon after I left their home and went to another, but each of their lessons still impact my life to this day.

The point I want to make is…be careful what you do or say, because that may be a lesson to someone who is listening and watching your life…and may imitate you.

Help us to live each day of our lives assuming there are others who will do as we do and not do as we say. Heal each of us and make us people of godly character as a result of watching You as Paul did when he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

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