Brothers, join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17 ESV
Last night there was another mass shooting in California leading to the death of seven people. Thus far in 2023, there have been 39 mass shootings already. That’s 13 mass shootings per week or about 2 mass shootings per day. Many of the perpetrators of these horrible crimes are copycats—that is, they are imitating other mass shooters.
The word copycat is defined as a person who copies another’s behavior, dress, or ideas. Every human being is a copycat to some degree. As babies, we learn to speak by imitating the sounds we hear around us. As a young man, I learned to shave by watching my dad and copying his behavior while shaving. Professional athletes and entertainers acquire vast fortunes and fame because marketers know so many people are copying their behavior, what they wear, drive, and eat, etc.
At the same time, most parents discourage their children from copying bad behavior or imitating people who are hurting others. For example, most parents do not want their children to imitate drug dealers or murderers. We want our children to imitate successful and godly people.
In today’s text, Paul is encouraging believers in the church at Philippi to be copycats. He told them to imitate him and others who are imitating Christ. As a proud imitator of Christ, Paul encouraged all the churches he was affiliated with to imitate Christ. In Ephesians 5:1, he told believers at Ephesus to be imitators of God, as bellowed children. To believers in the church at Corinth, he told them to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Paul was not the only one who encouraged believers to be spiritual copycats. Peter, John, and James shared similar messages with their audience. Jesus began the trend of encouraging believers to be spiritual copycats. In John 13:34, Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
A spiritual copycat copies the behavior of other godly people as they seek to live a Christ-centered life. It is recommended to copy the behavior, ideas, attitude, and lifestyle of people who are living to the glory of God by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting people in prison, standing for justice, and doing the work of an evangelist. Jesus is looking for a few spiritual copycats to preach the gospel and make disciples for His kingdom.
Men who are spiritual copycats honor their marital vows and provide godly leadership for their children and community. Spiritual copycats are prayer warriors who enjoy gathering with other believers to pray. They love studying the word of God with other believers so they can grow in wisdom and knowledge to the glory of God.
Anyone can become a spiritual copycat once they’ve given their life to Christ. While evil is proliferating throughout this world with daily mass shootings, let us be spiritual copycats so that love can defeat hatred. The only way to stop racism, sexism, classism, mass shootings, and every other form of evil that has ensnared this world is by keeping our eyes on those who walk according to the example we have in Christ Jesus.
Questions for Personal Reflection
Who is a spiritual influence in your life that you should imitate?
What are the benefits of becoming a spiritual copycat?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help me to keep my eyes on those who walk according to Jesus Christ. Please give me the wisdom not to imitate ungodly behaviors, nor copy ideas that are contrary to your word.