Christ Our Example

W. Terry Varner
November 2, 2014

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21, emp. added). The word example means “to write under.” This signifies an example of imitation. The word is a figure of speech suggested by the copy-book method of writing or penmanship.

Many of us learned penmanship when in grade school. We had a beautifully written copy-book which gave us an example of perfect penmanship and we were to practice imitating it. When we first began to imitate the penmanship in our writing manual, our handwriting was awkward but finally with persistence and practice, we learned how to have good penmanship.

  • Christ Is Our Example. Christ is our example or specimen copy. The application for Christians is obvious. We copy the example of Jesus in our life. As we live close to Christ, our life takes on His example. Our aim and ambition is to be more and more like Christ. This takes patience, persistence, and practice.
  • Things We Imitate in Christ. The life of Christ serves as an example of what we are to copy. Peter suggests the following:
  • “One mind” (1 Peter 3:8). This means united in spirit, to be of similar disposition, or in harmony. Christians united in spirit are necessary and essential to the well-being of the church. Such unity of spirit comes when we are humbled and take the matter of unity more seriously than our own self-importance and desires.
  • “Compassion for one another” (1 Peter 3:8). It is from this word that we get our English word sympathy. We have compassion for others when we allow Christ to reign within. Christians are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). When one Christian suffers all suffer (1 Cor. 12:26). We are to show mercy to others.
  • “Brotherly love” (1 Peter 3:8). Let the Lord speak and let us so act. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
  • “Tenderhearted” (1 Peter 3:8). Tenderheartedness is the attitude of mercy in the life of a Christian. It is mercy which results in action. It is opposite of a cold heart. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).
  • “Be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8). This is translated as “humble” in the ASV. To be courteous to others is to have a modest opinion of self and a high opinion of others (cf. Philip. 2:3-5). Peter tells us that being courteous or humble is a spirit that God rewards. “All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”’ (1 Peter 5:5b-6).
  • “Speak no guile” (1 Peter 3:10). The Christian is not to speak malicious words. Malicious words are words spoken with the intent of doing harm to another. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).
  • “Do good” (1 Peter 3:11). Good is not something just to be spoken of with admiration, but good is something to be done. This makes the Christian a blessing and not a problem to others.

When the Christian develops these traits, he will be imitating Christ and will “love life and see good days” (1 Peter 3:10). It Christians do this they will “be holy in all your [their] conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).