January 29, 2014- Lately I have been grieved and disappointed to discover the failures and weaknesses of Christian leaders who have been a great blessing and help to me in the past. It can be confusing and painful. We live in a time of spiritual tumult when it is tempting to adopt a Christian celebrity or personality and lean on them inordinately for spiritual support. There is a temptation to identify with them or with their camp or party for a sense of spiritual security or strength. I’m afraid I have been vulnerable to it, as well. This was a problem in Paul’s day. He rejected celebrity. (1 Cor. 1:12-13) We must, too.
Re-post from May 13, 2003
Reading William Gurnall one day I came across a powerful statement on the attitude we should have toward esteemed Christian leaders. I have always found it helpful. Men and women of exemplary life are some of God’s greatest gifts to the church. One of the ways of walking in holiness is imitation of worthy men and women. There is only One, however, who is worthy of worship. Read on for the quote from William Gurnall.
“Enslave not thy judgement to any person or party. There is a spiritual suretiship which hath undone many in their judgments and principles. Be not bound to, or for the judgment of any.
…live by thine own faith, not another’s. Labour to see truth with thine own eyes. That building stands weak which is held up by a shore, or some neighbour house which it leans on, rather than on a foundation of its own.
Let not authority from man, but evidence from the word, conclude thy judgement…
Quote Scripture rather than men for thy judgement. Not, so saith such a learned holy man; but, thus saith the holy Scripture.
Yet, take heed of bending this direction too far the other way; which is done when we contemn the judgment of such whose piety and learning might command reverence. There is sure a mean to be found between defying men and deifying them.
It is the admiring of persons that… makes many cry ‘Hosanna’ to error and ‘Crucify’ to truth.
Call none father on earth; despise none, adore none.”
“The Christian in Complete Armor”
Who do you want to be like? (Proverbs 13:20)
“He who walks with wise men will be wise…”
Galatians 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you
Luke 6:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
Philippians 4:9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
2 Thessalonians 3:9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
1 Timothy 1:16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
1 Peter 5:3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
Acts 20:28-38 This is why older, godly Christians are so important in a Christian fellowship.blockquote>
Here is how the process works:
1. the behavior is modeled
2. the behavior is imitated
3. I accept by faith that the behavior is God’s will
4. I trust the enabling power of the Holy Spirit
5. I repeat the behavior
6. I continue over a prolonged period of time
7. I am among brothers and sisters who support the behavior
8. Over a period of time it becomes the behavior I deeply desire. (Affections)
“…A Companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go,
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”