In a 2016 episode of the television comedy Last Man Standing, all the characters dressed up as another family member for a party. They were also to act and talk like the character they were imitating. What ensued was an exaggeration of mannerisms and philosophies to the point where one insult after another was hurled. What began as a fun activity quickly degenerated into hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and a derailed party.
When the sons of Samuel were appointed as judges over Israel, they became corrupt, perverted in judgment, and they “walked not in his ways” (I Samuel 8:3). In response, the people over-reacted by demanding Samuel anoint a king to reign over them. There were, however, several problems with this request. First, they did not try to fix the issues with the corrupt priests. They could have properly addressed their wrongdoings, given them an opportunity to correct their wretched behavior, or simply asked for new godly judges to replace them. Second, they did not inquire of the Lord for wisdom, nor did they consult God’s written Word about how to best handle this situation. Instead, they willfully moved forward in human wisdom alone. Predictably, what followed was a disaster. Third, their motive in demanding a king was wrong. Twice they told Samuel they wanted a king to reign over them so that they could be “like all the nations” around them (I Samuel 8:5, 20). It is never wise for believers to seek to imitate the lost. It will lead to unwise standards, practices, priorities, attitudes, actions, and worship. It may help one to “fit in” with the crowd, but God has always intended for His children to be distinctly different from the lost. We are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the Lord into greater godliness (Romans 12:1-2). We are not to walk as Gentiles (or heathen) walk (Ephesians 4:17), but to be a peculiar people in godliness and service for Him (Titus 2:14). What ensued for Israel was the bondage of servitude to the world, an inept impact on the lost, and a derailed relationship with the Lord.
Who are you seeking to imitate? The primary lesson to learn from this example is to be careful not to imitate the unregenerate world. The Savior would have us imitate Him and those who pattern their lives after Him in godliness. We encourage you to make a conscious decision today to abandon imitating worldly people and standards. Then embrace imitating godliness.
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