Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing . . . And who is sufficient for these things?…we speak in the sight of God in Christ. (2Corinthians 1:14-17)

Early church leaders’ conduct was critical to the foundation being laid for future generations. For the sake of a strong future, church leaders responsibly set an example for new, maturing converts to follow. That was the context of Paul’s invitation to follow him as he followed the Lord. Paul’s simultaneous expression of strength and humility was a solid example to follow.

Applying the principle, we observe godly qualities in those who lead and are blessed by their example and motivated to achieve like standards. Humanly speaking, we learn more by example than almost any other way and so, when those we esteem fall short of the mark, the burden of error is felt by everyone involved.

On the positive side, new resolve often results from a mistake or misstep—resolve for greater integrity, commitment to right order personally, and determination to imitate the Lord so others see His example lived through us. Central to the idea of leading by example is our responsibility to forgive the person whose example did not hold true. Because we forgive, the best days are ahead, not behind, and unexpected strength with humility is possible despite a wrong suffered. 

Lifting our expectations to believe again—to trust and hope again, the words of the familiar hymn say it well: Lead on, O King Eternal . . . we follow!

Amen.

2Corinthians 1:14-17 | 1 Corinthians 11:1 | Romans 3:23 | Verse@Once