Today we live in a herd environment, that of a human herd. Mass advertising confronts us every hour, creating this mentality. We reflected on this as we read Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, that we “give you in ourselves an example to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). What do we imitate? Who do we take as our examples? And why do we see them as good examples?

Bad examples abound. There are also things which are not especially bad not really worthwhile either. We need to ask, ‘what is spiritually nutritious’ in each thing we watch, read or do? Paul writes, “you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it … that we might not be a burden to you” (verses 7,8).

Are we pulling our weight, doing our share? We live in a society where getting something for nothing seems to be the aim of an increasing number of people. Some governments have made themselves popular by giving handouts but then later have serious problems balancing their budgets.

In some countries the amount of social welfare encourages some to live idle lives, but the true believer must have an attitude that is the very opposite. It says in Hebrews, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (13:7). Believers then did not have the blessing of a Bible to read every day, but, if they had, they would surely have read it in nearly every hour that could be spared from their essential tasks.

With so many Bibles available today, what part does it take in daily life? One of the smallest books in the Bible is John 3. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (verse 11). We cannot physically see God but with “the eyes of (our) hearts” (Ephesians 1:18) we can see God, using His “living word” which cleanses hearts. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). All such will be sure to experience the wonderful time described in today’s Isaiah reading, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9).