The apostle Paul wrote to two young preachers. Both were encouraged to set good examples. Timothy was admonished: “Let no man despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Titus was challenged: “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8). The challenge of the gospel is to live life imitating the example of Jesus Christ, being a good example. He left us an example that we should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). We are to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). A mature disciple is one who can say with Paul: “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20).
The effects of a good sermon are destroyed by bad living. The best parental advice is overruled by a bad example. Children imitate what they see and hear. Imagine the frustration of a child who is punished for smoking the cigarette butt his father threw away, or has his mouth washed out for saying a word he learned from his mother. Jesus warned regarding the Pharisees: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (Matthew 23:3). Sadly, the Pharisees are not the only ones to have their influence destroyed by living a bad example.
It’s impossible to place too much emphasis on the importance of a good example. What we do says more about us than what we say. Edgar Guest wrote: “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear. Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear. And best of all the preachers are the men who live their creed. For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.”
~Via Roger Rush