Back in 1993, professional basketball player Charles Barkley made headlines when he declared, “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” He was right about that last part, but he failed to realize that when you play in the NBA, being a role model to millions of aspiring young athletes just comes with the territory. The only question for such men is, are you a good role model or a bad one?
The same is true in the Christian life. You may not think you are setting an example for anyone, but no matter who you are, someone looks up to you. And if you name the name of Christ, the only question is, are you a good example of what a Christian should be, or a bad one?
This is true even for young Christians. That’s why Paul told a young man named Titus:
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works” (Titus 2:7).
As all Christians know, you can’t be saved by doing good works; you can only be saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8,9). But as Paul went on to say in his letter to the Ephesians, Christians “should” do good works because God saved us freely by His grace (v. 10). As he says there about good works, “God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Now, if you find that you need some incentive to choose to become a pattern of good works, let’s compare how God motivated His people to walk in good works in time past under the law of Moses. He told Ezekiel to tell the people of Israel,
“…shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern… shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof…” (Ezekiel 43:10,11).
If the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day weren’t ashamed of their sins, God told him to have them look at all the trouble that He had gone through to forgive their sins. He told him to show His people the magnificence of His “house,” the temple that He had Solomon build to receive their animal sacrifices, and all the comings and goings of the priests in the temple, and all the intricate rules and regulations of the priesthood. In other words, He wanted them to “measure the pattern” of their religion to remind them of the lengths to which He had gone to forgive their sins, and then ask themselves if they should continue in sin in light of all that He had done for them.
Of course, today we don’t look to the temple to measure the lengths to which God went to forgive our sins, nor do we look to Israel’s priesthood, or anything else in her religion. Today we look to the cross. In light of the unspeakable sacrifice Christ made there on our behalf, it would be the height of ingratitude for “we, that are dead to sin” to “live any longer therein” (Rom. 6:2).
That’s why, in learning to walk in good works, we study the cross and not the Law, and let “the love of Christ” constrain us, “that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Cor. 5:14,15), as Isaac Watts wrote in that sacred hymn centuries ago:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.