Philippians 3:17–4:1;Psalm 122:1-5; Luke 16:1-8
Join with others in being imitators of me. (Philippians 3:17)
What an odd thing for Paul to say! Why should we try to emulate him, a mere mortal, when we have the example of Jesus, the perfect Son of God, right before us?
Clearly, we should never elevate Paul—or Peter or Mary or anyone else—above the Lord. Only Jesus can draw us into union with God. In fact, Paul’s letters show that he could sometimes be cranky, temperamental, and strong-willed as he founded churches and tackled various challenges that these new churches faced.
But despite these flaws—or maybe through dealing with them—Paul learned how to come into the presence of God. He learned how to bring his needs to the Lord, and he learned how to let the Spirit soften his harder edges. He never stopped pursuing Jesus, asking for “the power of his resurrection” to help him become more like Christ. (Philippians 3:10).
So yes, it is a good idea to imitate Paul! In his quest to become one with the Lord, he walked a path that we all can follow. What’s more, his letters are filled with clues that can help us find the Lord.
Take today’s reading, for example. Paul laments those whose “minds are occupied with earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). If we want to find the Lord, we need to lift up our hearts. We need to take time every day to quiet our many concerns, fears, and responsibilities so that we can hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper in our hearts.
Paul also told the Galatians, “Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). We too can stand firm against temptation so that sin doesn’t cast a cloud over our hearts and keep us from experiencing God’s love.
He also told Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). You have the Holy Spirit! And that Spirit wants to lift you to heaven! So seek him, trust in him, rely on him, and he will lead you to Christ.
There are so many other lessons Paul has to teach us. Take a chapter of one of his letters today and see how many you can find.
“Lord, I want to know you and the power of the resurrection more each day. Come and fill me with your presence.”~WAU