On certain occasions, one of my foster sons (Joel) who is one year old, will put on my work shoes, and with difficulty he tries to walk in them. How many of us, as parents, have witnessed our sons or daughters try to dress like us, or even mimic us? It is said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. In this passage, the Apostle Paul makes a bold statement. He says, “imitate me”. Before we look closer at the statement in this verse, it serves purpose to first look at the word “therefore”.
The word, therefore, is a term of conclusion, and it forces us to look back at the previous passages. This is a great aid to enable us to practice the powerful discipline of Biblical Meditation. Or at the very least, we can always ask "What's it there for"? Paul had just explained that he was their spiritual "father" through the Gospel (1Cor 4:15).
So, the Apostle Paul, as their spiritual father, loving his spiritual children, does not ask, but urges his children to “imitate me.” The word imitator is derived from the Greek word mimetes, which means one who follows someone else's behavior, miming their behavior, so to speak. It means one who copies another person's actions.
This is positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation (i.e. a mentor setting a proper example). It is always used positively in the NT of followers of Christ emulating a God-approved example. The supreme model is God Himself. Paul had the confidence in the Spirit, and not in himself. Paul's command for the Corinthians to imitate him was based on the assumption that they knew that he was an imitator of Christ. For in 1Cor 11:1 NASB, we read “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” This verse is in the present imperative. It is written as a command to "continually become”.
Please note that Paul did not, and could not, emulate Christ in his own strength. This ability to mimic Christ-likeness was the result of empowerment of the Holy Spirit, his surrender to Christ, and the yielding of himself to the Spirit of Christ. And we have the power to do the same. So, I ask the question dear brother and/or sister, to you and even to myself, are you able to urge someone in your life to imitate you? If the answer is no, or even I am not sure, please do not be discouraged. It is God’s will for you to become transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and you have not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:12).
The steps are simple. They are to meditate more on the Word of God, both day and night, to pray more often, and more fervently, and to be a branch that abides onto the Vine, for the more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him.
Read the words of David (Psalm 27:4 AMP):
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.”
Take heart dear brothers and sisters knowing that the Father is working in you and His work is effective and true. Be confident that you are a light placed on a hill, shining brightly at your place of work, in your community, and in your family. And you, too, will also say “imitate me”!