Philippians 3.17 – Imitate

Paul has already told the Philippians of his intention to live more like Jesus (vv.8-14), and once again warns the believers to be wary of those in their midst that would seek to throw them off the narrow path (cf. v.2).

This time he throws in an example or two to follow. He writes in 3.17, 

Brothers, join in imitating me, 

and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Rather then try to turn the church at Philippi into Paul-copy-pastes, he is saying they should imitate him in his ‘relentless pursuit’ of becoming more and more like Christ, as Robert Lightner put it. The writer/speaker to the Hebrews urges the same in 13.7 when he says we ought to imitate [your leaders’] faith. 

From this we see that whilst we have one ultimate goal and target (cf. Philippians 3.8), along the way it’s ok to have multiple mini-targets, many men and women from whom we want to take their exemplary character and conduct, brothers and sisters whom we want to imitate. 

Just think – in your church family is there someone so unflappably cool, calm, and collected that you look at them and think, wow, I wish I was as steady as him/her? Is there someone that you talk to and think, wow, he/she really knows Scripture, I wish I knew the Word like they do?

The good news as you pursue the Good News is that we are encouraged to imitate those around us, to take their best and add it to our lives. Here Paul is encouraging the Philippians to imitate his relentless pursuit of becoming more like Jesus, and perhaps that is a good point to pause today – identify someone in your church family with a relentless desire to become more and more like Christ, talk to them, pray with them, get to know them, and, if the Lord leads you to, then imitate them!

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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