by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Jeremiah 35:1-19
I. People learn in a variety ways. Some ways make a bigger impression on a person than others.
A. People don’t learn how to be a Christian just from reading or listening to the Bible, though that is a major method.
B. Preachers must understand that people also learn by watching how other Christians behave – especially those who are supposed to know the right way.
1. After being told what instructions to give, Paul tells Titus what he must do - Titus 2:7-8
2. In order to defend the gospel, preachers will find themselves in opposition with other people.
a. When people cannot match sound reasoning, they will fight back by trying to besmirch the preacher’s reputation
b. A preacher cannot give his opponent ammunition
3. Timothy was told the same thing - I Timothy 4:12
C. Elders have people watching them as well - Hebrews 13:7
1. This is why the qualifications of an elder includes things like “above reproach”, “respectable” - I Timothy 3:2
2. I Timothy 3:7 - His reputation must be good both in the church and outside as well.
3. I Peter 5:1-3 - Must prove to be an example to fellow Christians
II. It sometimes is frightening thinking about the people watching you.
A. Oh, we are happy when people see our good traits and want to model their own lives after them.
1. Yet each of us have things in our lives that we are not proud of.
2. We definitely don’t want others following our mistakes.
B. Psalms 69:5-6 - David’s concern that he doesn’t dishonor other believers with his sins.
C. As we live our lives, other people are watching. We must always keep in mind that our example is influencing others - I Corinthians 10:24, 31-11:1
D. A survey on why teenagers aren’t following after their parent’s faith
1. The number one reason is that adults do not live lives consistent with what they say they believe.
2. “The questions is, what kind of a God image their parents project. For to these teenagers their fathers and mothers are the lenses through which they see God. ... Not only do grown-ups fail to conduct their lives in a way commensurate with their stated convictions, they also don’t talk with their children about spiritual concerns.” - Mark Yaconelli, 2002
3. Read the article, “Shady Lane, the Preacher, and the Boy”.
4. How do you want your children to grow up? Are you living that life yourself?
E. Are you a detriment or an encouragement to the faith of others?
III. The sad thing is that while some kill the budding faith of others, it still remains that each of us must be careful who we are following
A. We cannot blame others for our own poor choices
B. When we see bad examples, it should spur us to say “I’m not going down that path!” - Hebrews 4:11
1. That is why God recorded the failures of men as well as their good deeds - I Corinthians 10:6-12
2. Yes, we can learn valuable lessons from the sins of others - Jude 7
3. Mark Twain once said, “We must learn from the mistakes of others because we don’t have time to make all of them ourselves.”
C. But that means each of us must know the difference between right and wrong. We must judge each example and decide if it is worth following. - Hebrews 5:14
1. Though example helps us put into practice the things we learn, it still falls upon us to learn the principles.
2. You want to have a good marriage, find those who have a good marriage and observe what they do (or don’t do).
a. Go to your Bibles and see if it is consistent with God’s instructions.
b. Look at those with failed marriages. Is a lack of what you observed a contributor to the failure?
c. Imitate then the good.
D. The world is filled with bad examples, but it doesn’t mean the good isn’t there.
1. But a good example doesn’t help when no one follows - II Chronicles 27:1-2
2. The young boy in that article correctly identified a bad example.
a. He rightly knew that he did not want to be like that man.
b. But he chose the wrong thing not to follow.
c. It is a common problem. We generalize.
(1) “This is a evil man who drinks and swears.”
(2) Instead of saying “I’m not going to drink or swear” we broaden it to say “I’m not going to anything he does.”
(3) But no one is perfectly evil. What about the few things he does right. Do I not do right because an evil person happened to do what was right?
IV. Give everyone around you the best encouragement to live right by making your own life a good example - I Thessalonians 1:2-10
A. You adults, we want children to say “I want to be like him when I grow up.”
B. You teenagers, remember that the little ones imitate you as well.
C. We want people in the neighborhood to say, “That is the kind of life I always wanted.”
D. When our lives are molded to the model God has laid out for us, what glory it gives to the Creator and our Savior.