The Power of Example

Jonathan Threlfall

“Virtuous deeds,” wrote Plutarch, “implant in those who search them out a great and zealous eagerness which leads to imitation” (Life of Pericles 1.4). Although he was by no means a Christian, Plutarch’s words resonate with the words of Scripture, particularly the cry of the psalmist in the opening verses of Psalm 119:

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity:
they walk in his ways.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” (Psalm 119:1-5).

What was the psalmist’s “inciting moment” of his journey with the Word of God? What triggered that thirst in his soul for God’s Word? It was not merely his reading of it, but his seeing it incarnated in the lives of others. He saw the action of these people: they walked in the law of the Lord. He saw their passion: they sought him with their whole heart. And most of all he saw their blessedness. It was the example of these people that compelled the psalmist to cry, “Oh that my way may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!”

As Christians, we have a powerful resource at our disposal. It is the same resource that Plutarch said “implant[s] in those who search them out a great and zealous eagerness which leads to imitation.” It is powerful because it does not merely coerce from the outside: it inspires from within. It is the power of example. It is the power of a life consistently and earnestly following God’s Word.

Jonathan Threlfall is the Youth Pastor at Bible Baptist Church, Matthews, NC. He blogs at where this piece first appeared. It is used here by permission.