Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.Philippians 3:17(NASB)
Although we were born dead in trespasses and sins and at enmity with God, we must never forget that by grace through faith in Christ, we have been saved. As children of God, we have been called to live in newness of life, to walk in spirit and truth, and to grow in grace and Christlikeness.
The Lord Jesus is the ultimate example of a Man Who walked by faith and not by sight. He is the supreme specimen of humility, grace, truth, and sacrificial love. He is the most perfect pattern of a perfect Man Who was pleased to say continuously, not My will, Father, but Thine be done.
As those who have been born from above, we are called to walk according to a particular pattern that is evident in Paul, Timothy, Peter, John, and others who followed Christ's example of godly living. We are warned against chasing after false teachers who follow after their own fleshly lusts and dishonour the Lord Who bought them. We are exhorted to die to self, walk by faith, and live a holy life of self-sacrifice and praise as a testimony to the truth of God's Word - which is well-pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
Before being wonderfully saved on his journey to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of Jesus whom he vowed to hunt down and exterminate. However, after being arrested by a vision of the glorified Son of God as he travelled along the road, Saul of Tarsus... this fierce antagonist of Christ, became one of His most ardent followers.
He not only changed his name to Paul, but renounced his personal achievement, advantageous parentage, Pharisaic tradition, sanctimonious religiosity, popularity, power, prestige, and position, for the sake of gaining Christ. He was willing to admit that whatever things were at one time important to him had become insignificant and regarded as nothing... for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
Paul was ready and willing to suffer the loss of all things for the sake of Christ. He considers everything he once regarded as important, as rubbish in order to gain Christ. He was prepared to give up everything for Christ's sake and was willing to suffer pain and loss for love of His name's sake. "That I may know Him," was Paul's passionate heart-cry: "My goal is to know Him intimately, together with the power of His resurrected life and to be willing to fellowship in His sufferings, by conforming myself to His death - death to self and a life that is lived for the honour and glory of God."
It was in this context that Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians toward a heavenly walk, as exemplified by his own life: "Brethren," he pleaded, "join in following my example, and observe those who, like me... walk according to the pattern you have in us."
The Christian life does not consist of what God can do for me, but what I can do for Him Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Paul was calling for the Philippian Christians to follow His own example of Christian living and become imitators of his life of self-sacrifice, suffering, and praise.
Paul was so immersed in the Lord Jesus, that he became a polished mirror of Christ's likeness. He was able to hold up his own life as a model of complete and utter devotion to his Lord and Saviour, which others should try to emulate. Paul was not a man who said 'do as I say and not as I do', but was able to use himself as a 'pattern' of godly living, for others to imitate.
May we, by God's grace, become so Christ-like in our actions and attitude, minds and motive, words and walk, that we, like the apostle Paul, become an exemplary life to others and a pattern upon which they are able to model their own lives - for His greater praise and eternal glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the life and ministry of the apostle, Paul. Thank You for the example he set of Christ-likeness, through self-sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You. My heart’s cry is to know You more intimately, to love You more deeply, and to follow You more closely, no matter what the cost. May I know the power of Your resurrected life and be willing to fellowship in Christ’s suffering, for His name’s sake. May I present my life to You as a holy and living sacrifice. In Jesus' name, AMEN.