Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Salesman Samples

                One of the programs that I like to watch on television is the Antiques Roadshow. I like antiques, and have a few pieces that have been passed down through the family. Usually, during these shows someone brings in what is called a salesman sample. Back in the day, before they had large department stores, salesman would travel around and show off these miniature representations of what they were selling.
Carpenters and furniture makers would produce miniature replicas of pieces that they were able to produce for the public and would display them in their shop windows. What intrigues me about these salesman samples is that they are an exact replica of a larger piece. Every detail that is placed into that miniature would also be found in the larger piece. They were all an example of the true, original piece.
                Paul, in some of his epistles writes to us to be examples as well. He tells the Thessalonians that they were an example to those around them. (1 Thessalonians 1:7) He tells Timothy to be an example to the believers, in every aspect of his young life. (1 Timothy 4:12) Just like the salesman samples, we too are to be an exact replica of the original piece. We are to be miniature Jesus’ walking on this earth.  Paul writes to the Thessalonians and says that they have followed his example, and the example of those who were with him while he was there. This was a great encouragement to Paul and brought him much comfort to see. He knew the importance of being an example to others. But it brings up the question, “What kind of an example am I?”
“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 1:7
                Paul writes to this fellowship of believers that not only have they become examples but that their examples affected those around them. So what exactly does Paul mean when he commends them for being examples to all? The word example means to be a pattern or a model. An example is something that is to be either imitated or avoided. What kind of example are you? Are we examples to be imitated, or are we examples to be avoided?
                Recently I have found myself wondering about what people will remember about me when I leave this earth. Will they remember the love that I had for Jesus? Will my life have pointed them to Him? Or will I be remembered for a few days then forgotten? Will the words and the conduct of my life have been a reflection, an example of Christ? Will they remember me or will they remember Jesus in me?
               All of us are living examples. We are all salesman samples walking on this earth. We are to be representing the original piece- Jesus Christ. Christ left us an example of how to live our lives upon this earth for Him. He gave us the pattern and the model we are to imitate as His children. We are to be a smaller, yet exact representation of who He is. This applies not only to what we do, but as Paul reminds Timothy, this applies to every area of our lives.
“…but be an example to the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity…”
1 Timothy 4:12
                Paul tells Timothy as well as us today, that in our words we are to be an example of Christ. In our conduct, how we conduct ourselves in the presence of others is to be an example of Christ. Paul goes on to tell us that how we love is also to be an example of Christ’s love. In our spirits, we are to be an example of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In faith, being an example of the greatness and goodness of our Lord. And last but not least, in purity we are to separate ourselves from those things that are not of God as an example to those who will follow.
                We are all an example of something or someone. The question is who? We can either be an example to be followed, always leading people back to Jesus, or we can be an example to be avoided. When I was a child, one of the things my sister would do to get a rise out of me was to imitate me. What I said, she said. What I did, she did. Usually it got to the point where I would get mad and she and I would end up into a fight. But, the Lord showed me this morning that is how we are to be these examples, these miniature representations of the original piece- Jesus Christ. What He says, we need to speak. What He would do, we need to do. Who He would love, we need to love. We need to live as He lived, being salesman samples to the world around us.
               You are an example to someone. Someone is constantly looking at your life and someone is always following your lead. It could be your children, your sister in the Lord, or someone you work with. Someone is always watching you. They are looking at the salesman sample of your life and determining if they want the Original piece for themselves. The choice is ours. We can be an example of Christ, or we can be an example to avoid. I choose Christ. What about you?