Probably the most powerful theme that touched lives during our Easter conference in Shinyanga was the subject of being an example, a model. Many of the sisters who shared spoke on this topic. Sister Veronique said, “Whether we like it or not (once we are saved) we are all examples and models. We die so that the life of Christ may revealed in us.”
She said further, “It is God’s plan that you and I become examples of the life of the Spirit.”
Those were truly humbling words. I thought, What a privilege! What an indescribable honor it is to become an example of the life of the Spirit in this world. The Bible calls this world
“this present evil world”. (Gal. 1:4)
What a privilege to show off the glory and life of God in a dark and dying world!
But again, what a responsibility! We are to be examples of the life of the Spirit in our homes, and everywhere else, in every circumstance and every situation.
The thought that I ought to be an model and example to my wife and children brought a slight chill to my body. With we men, we want to be respected as husbands and fathers in our houses. And yet, that respect is earned! It is earned as we humble ourselves more and reflect the character of Jesus who laid down His life for us. It is not a simple matter of providing for our families. It is the more noble task of humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness when we need to, both to our spouses and our children. That is the example we need to show as Christians.
The fruit of the Spirit is the example we need to bring forth.
Being an example of the life of the Spirit comes with a price. It is accompanied by a death to the flesh. The two cannot co-exist. Galatians 5:17:
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
The flesh and the Spirit strive against each other. None is willing to let the other win. They are mortal enemies within us. But we are the referee. Our (crucified or uncrucified) wills allow or disallow the flesh or the Spirit to carry the victory in our lives.
When we crucify the flesh, we suffer. We suffer when we are mistreated or humiliated and we patiently bear it with a loving and forgiving heart. We suffer when we lack something for the gospel’s sake. We suffer when our rights are taken away. We suffer when we have to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. It is doing all this with joy in our hearts.
A Christian suffers in many different ways. But it is this suffering for the gospel’s sake that brings or bears the life of Christ in us. It is not a matter of being a good person. It is a matter of dying to our flesh, period!
This is the only way that we can become models and examples in our families, in the church, and to the world. We are called to live such a spiritually desirable life that people will look at our lives and say, “This is what I am missing. This is what I desire to have in my life.”
[One way or another we are all called to lead – lead by example]