To whom do you look? Do you have a hero? If you are a Christian, the Sunday School answer is often Jesus or Paul. And there are characters throughout the Scriptures to whom we should look and seek to emulate. Jesus is the Son of God, He is perfect, and He is the ultimate example for our lives. The “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 gives examples of Old Testament forefathers of the faith who lived exemplary lives. The disciples lived with passion and conviction, taking the Gospel to the known world and all but one dying for the faith. These are people that we should imitate.
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
– Heb 13.7
In fact, Paul exhorts the church at Corinth to imitate himself!
“Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.”
– 1 Cor 4.16
These pillars of faith have gone on before, serve as an example, and hope expectantly for our success.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Heb 12.1-2
There are many forerunners of the faith from whom we can learn since Bible times as well. I prefer those who have finished their race as having died they are not able apostatize and disgrace the name of our Lord. Perhaps the most influential author/pastor/believer in my life is Jonathan Edwards. He has a phenomenal story which I encourage you to read, but at the age of 19 he established for himself seventy resolutions by which he would live. He disciplined himself to read and meditate on the entire list once a week for the rest of his life: 35 years. I long for such a conviction, such a passion and such commitment to our Lord.
Here are the first ten resolutions to which he committed himself:
- Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
- Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.
- Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
- Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.
- Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
- Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
- Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
- Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30.
- Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
- Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
Resolution number seven and eight regularly grab my attention. To function in complete awareness of one’s own depravity and live with the freedom and knowledge of the saving grace bestowed upon us is to be able to love one another truly and grow in repentance and humility as we observe sin outside of ourselves. It is easy to point fingers. It is hard to repent. And to choose “carpe diem”, to seize the day – to live every moment honorably such that the Lord would be pleased if He were to return at that moment is an overwhelming thought. Let us seek to discipline ourselves. Let us remember those who have suffered for the sake of the cross. Let us live to “the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure” such as God would have for us and make His name known! Let us find some heroes and imitate their faith!