The Limitation Set on the Following of Good Men
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Of me, even as I also am of Christ. The apostle calls to the same personal following, without the qualification, in 1 Corinthians 4:16. This first verse of ch. 11. should be the closing verse of ch. 10., as it really completes the exhortation which is there given. "The apostle refers to his own example, but only to, lead his readers up to Christ as the great example of One who 'pleased not himself' (Romans 15:8), His own example is valuable inasmuch as it is the example of one who is striving to conform to the image of his Lord." Recall David's very striking expression in Psalm 16:2, 8, "My goodness extendeth not to thee [O God]; only to the saints that are in the earth," We consider -

I. THE IMPULSE OF SAINTLY EXAMPLES; or, expressed in simple terms, of recognized goodness in our fellow men. Distinguish between the life missions of talented men and of good men. The "talented" may seem to be out of our range, the "good" never are. The weakest, poorest, humblest among us may be "good." God has taken care to provide the saintly ones in every age. He sets somme such in every sphere of life. We all know of men and women better than ourselves who act on and inspire us. They exert these influences; they persuade us that

(1) goodness is beautiful;

(2) that goodness is attainable.

Then it is the bounden duty of all men and women who fear God and love the Lord Jesus Christ to culture personal character, become saintly, and gain the power to witness for Christ by a holy example.

II. THE IMPERFECTION OF ALL SAINTLY EXAMPLES. None of them are perfect and complete. It is human to err. All the saintly ones fall short of the full standard of humanity as shown to us in Christ. This point is suggestive of abundant illustration taken:

1. From Scripture. There is only one man mentioned in Scripture who even seems to have been perfect. It is Enoch; and we cannot be sure concerning him, seeing that the records of his life are gathered up into only one or two brief sentences. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David, etc., are all frail, fallible men, whose very sides of goodness and strength are at times exaggerated so as to become evil.

2. From experience and observation. We know that those who seem to us most heroic and saintly are deeply sensible of their own failings and shortcomings, and we cannot have to do with them long before finding occasion for the exercise of our charity in relation to their conduct. Even the Apostle Paul could not permit us to make himself our standard. He knew too well what hastiness of temper sometimes overcame him, and how greatly he had to struggle with the body of sin. We can be followers of no man, if he stands alone. We can only follow a fellow man as he may be in some point a reflection of and suggestion of Christ, the manifested God. Consequently only Christ can be our absolute Exempler. We can be followers of him; we may put the whole force of our natures into following him; we may let no fellow man stand before him. Show that the enemies of Christ could have easily gained their end if they could have found a stain upon his moral character, a word spoken or a thing done which the conscience of mankind could distinctly recognize as unworthy of ideal manhood. None such have ever been found during the nearly nineteen centuries of Christianity. The things usually made into moral charges are abundantly capable of explanations that redound to Christ's honour, or belong to the mystery of his Divine birth and mission. But, while we admit that no man can be to us a full exempler, we may recognize that good men do catch measures of the goodness of the Christ whom they serve, and are examples for us so far as they are Christ like. It is possible for us to go a little further even than this, and admit a certain special and peculiar power upon us exerted by purely human examples, which, by reason of their very frailty, tone and temper and shadow for us, and in adaptation to our weakness, the over splendour of the Christly and Divine. It is most practically helpful to us that we may be followers of such a brother man as St. Paul, so far as he follows Christ and reflects the full Christliness with a human tempering suited to our feeble sight. Then it follows that what St. Paul thus is to us we may be to others. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

WEB: Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Second Sunday Before Lent
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