Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
August 28, 2016
Make a difference by being a good example
Asked what he thought about America these days, a friend said, “We are on our way to hell in a handbasket!”
I have heard that phrase all my life but I have no idea why “hell in a handbasket” implies impending disaster – but it does. My friend did not have to explain that rampant immorality is destroying our culture. I knew what he meant.
If you are a freedom-loving, law-abiding citizen, and you want to do something to stop America’s plunge into hell, the best way to do that is to set a good example for others as a decent person who values integrity.
Examples matter. Good examples make a difference. They always have. They always will. The people who are truly “world changers” change the world by their example.
Albert Schweitzer was aware of this. He influenced us all by his example of serving as a missionary doctor among the poor in Africa. And it was Schweitzer who once said, “There is only one way to influence others – and that is by example.”
The power of example is extraordinary. Many people become Christians because of the godly example of their parents. And there are stories of nannies who influenced children more than the children’s parents. An example is the nanny of Winston Churchill.
Elizabeth Everest was Churchill’s nanny. Churchill said he loved his mother “at a distance,” but he adored Mrs. Everest. She taught him the Scriptures. She taught him to pray. She taught him to trust God. In times of trouble as an adult, on the battlefield when his life was in danger, he found himself praying prayers he had learned at his nanny’s knee. Throughout his life a picture of Mrs. Everest sat on his desk. When he died her picture lay at his bedside.
So when we applaud Churchill for his courageous example during the Nazi blitz of England, we must also recognize the profound difference that Elizabeth Everest made in the development of Winston’s character during his childhood.
The Apostle Paul was a good example for his protégé Timothy. And it is not surprising that as Paul neared the end of his life, he implored Timothy to set a good example as a Christian teacher: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, NLT)
Little wonder that Paul urged Timothy to pay close attention to what he was teaching. He knew that what we teach, and the way we live, will encourage others to embrace our Savior or, God forbid, persuade unbelievers to ignore the faith.
Those of us who dare to stand before others and preach the gospel must never forget the haunting words of Edgar Guest:
I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye is a better pupil, more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear,
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see a good put in action is what everybody needs.
So here’s the moral of this lesson: If you will stay out of the handbasket your good example can help change the world. Your example matters! + + +