“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.” 3 John 11
It is often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Those we imitate are the people that we love the most.
So it is no surprise that keeping the Ninth Commandment involves more than just what we say and what we don’t say. Keeping this commandment involves imitating the lives of those who live by the truth.
In the conclusion of John’s letter to his friend Gaius, John encourages Gaius to imitate or mimic what is good, not what is evil. To give discernment to Gaius’ heart he points out how a life of true good flows from a heart that is born again by God. On the other side, those who live in evil demonstrate that they have not seen or been changed by God. Discerning who to imitate is a matter of seeing those who have been changed by the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
With one more example, John points to Demetrius as one worth imitating. Everyone has seen his faith, and all can attest to his love for God.
As believers, we too need to look to others who are walking closely with Jesus and imitate them. We need to be in a Christ-centered community, sharing our lives with others who have been utterly transformed by the grace of God. By our proximity to them, imitating their lives, we too will know how to uphold the truth about others well.
The Ninth Commandment goes far beyond just our speech, but to the everyday practice of love, grace, and truth for others.
Father, thank you for your son Jesus who modeled sacrificial love on the cross. Thank you for bringing other believers into my life. May I follow them as they follow you. Amen
For Further Reading
3 John 11-12