And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:7-8
Family game night. It’s a family bonding time that can be a pain for one, because he just wants to play Xbox, but secretly…deep down we may still love the fact that our teenage daughter begs us to still indulge. Surely it’s her desire to come out on top. Maybe it’s her desire to search for the coolest or silliest game in the store (though mom enjoys this, too). But family game night is never without laughs, debates, and some surprises.
There are quite a few interesting games out there, and our latest one has been one called “Hot Seat.” The person in the “Hot Seat” is the lucky one who picks a random card with a category or scenario listed, and everyone including the one in the “Hot Seat” must choose what the player would say.
Recently one of my cards was “what would my tombstone say?” or something like that. Kind of morbid. Answers rolled in like “Here lies a coffee lover,” until some were more like “something about Jesus…something about the Bible.”
Which got me to thinking about example. What the people around us see in us. What impact and impressions our daily interactions leave.
What are people going to say about us? Will it leave them shamed? Or justified?
In the second chapter of Titus, Paul writes to the elders of the church, not specifically to pastors; but to those considered to be of an older generation. He encourages them to be mentors to those who are younger and coming to faith. An example of champions of Christ and his character-living it out in their daily lives and interactions.
We don’t have to be elders, pastors, teachers, leaders to uphold this as our standard of living. It should be our highest calling as believers and followers of the Son of Man. As parents. As grandparents. As citizens within our communities. As walking, talking, representatives of his likeness in our neighborhoods, grocery stores, workplaces, and pews.
If someone were to place you in the “Hot Seat,” and then have to answer the question, “What would be on this person’s’ tombstone?” What would they say? Would the card say something about Jesus, or something about coffee? Would it shame you? Or would they be justified?
If your living example is the example of Christ-like character. Integrity. Actions that match your words. Honesty. Love. Gentleness in speech, even when truth must be spoken; and patience, then your example is one that probably has impact that has reached farther and wider than you can imagine. Someone may have said something sideways, and your character has spoken words that has put them to shame.
However, if you speak eloquent words, but do otherwise. Deal in ways that are contrary to the words of Christ. Hold on to bitterness, or speak falsely about your neighbor, the words spoken may just be justified. It may be a good idea to check-in with one of those elders Paul spoke of in Titus 2, and have someone hold you accountable. Not to judge you, but to help move you towards the path of integrity, honesty and the Christ-like character we are called to demonstrate as an example to others.
I’ve looked to “elders” for support, for reflection, for growth. We all need this. And I’ll testify that it makes all the difference in being one whose witness leaves an example of the person I realize I was, and the person I am becoming and continue to strive to be.
Which example are you?