by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. I Peter 2:21 NASB
Have you ever found yourself saying something like “I wish I could be like her”? I know I have—there are people I so admire who just seem to have it all together. They inspire me and make me want to emulate them. Is that such a bad thing? After all, even the Apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17 NASB).
But it was pointed out to me some time ago that if we make people our “plumb line”—a string stretched out by a weight to mark a perfectly vertical line on a wall—we will inevitably miss the mark. Even though a literal plumb line can be near-perfect, people are not. They will likely fail us at one point or another.
In addition, when we focus on outward achievements and actions, we can begin to feel superior (or inferior) to others—and neither option is how God would like us to think. We become the judge and jury of what is good and right or bad and wrong. And when those we consider shining examples fail, we become disillusioned. Sometimes that disillusionment gets transferred to God Himself.
So where can we look for an example that will never fail us? One that will remain consistent and reliable? The Apostle Peter has the best advice: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (I Peter 2:21 NASB).
Peter had learned that lesson first-hand. As a practicing Jew, he had vowed never to eat unclean food. Then while praying, Peter fell into a trance and saw a great sheet coming down with all kinds of unclean animals in it. Within seconds, he was shocked to hear Jesus tell him to kill and eat the animals. Peter said (can’t you just hear the vehemence in his voice?), “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.”(Act 10:14). You can almost hear his underlying sentiment: “I’ve sworn I’ll never do such a thing because then I’ll be unholy.”
At that moment, Peter was depending upon his behavior to make him righteous before God. Of course, that commitment had begun before He knew Jesus as His Savior through grace. Now he knew that only Jesus is The Way, yet, his old way of thinking had never been eliminated. His vow had the potential to prevent him from seeing God’s next opportunity to minister when Cornelius (a Gentile) arrived. Thankfully, Peter turned from his vow and as a result, the Church’s ministry to Gentiles began.
Peter had his eyes on the legions of Jews who had kept the Law and thought they’d gained righteousness through it. It took three commands from Jesus (Acts 10:16), before Peter heard the truth: Don’t focus on others; keep your eyes on me. What God has cleansed, you should no longer consider unholy.
Hebrews tells us where to put our gaze as we live for God. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” Jesus led a perfect, sinless life. He is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature…” (Hebrews 1:2-3 NASB). Who better to emulate?
The next time you start to say things like “I want to be like her,” stop and ponder who should really be your model and “plumb line.” Only Jesus offers a perfect example and will never fail before your eyes.
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and is the author of over 55 books including the Daughters of the King Bible study series. One of the studies is At the Heart of Friendship. As a popular women’s conference speaker, she has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Her passion is to communicate practical biblical ideas for trusting God more. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com.
Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Join the conversation: What have you found important for resisting making other people as your plumb line?