That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
— Hebrews 6:12
Let me ask you a question today: Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life right now? Is there one leader whom you respect and admire so exceptionally that you would want to emulate him and try to be like him in your own life? Is there one certain leader producing the type of fruit you long to see generated in your own personal life? If so, who is that leader?
You may wonder if it’s right to follow someone so closely that you actually start emulating them. But the Bible is replete with scriptures that instruct us to be followers of spiritual leaders. One such scripture is Hebrew 6:12: “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Notice that this scripture says we are to be “…followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The word “followers” is taken from the Greek word mimetes, from which we get the English word “imitate.” Other words that are derived from mimetes are “mimic” and “mime.” However, the best translation of this word is actually the word “actor.” (For more on the word mimetes, see March 6.)
Therefore, the command to “follow” isn’t referring to a casual type of following; rather, it implies an intentional study of the deeds, words, actions, and thoughts of another person in an attempt to fully understand that person and then to replicate his attributes in one’s own life. This type of following enables a person to think like his subject, walk like his subject, mimic his subject’s movements, make the vocal intonations of his subject, and act like his subject in a masterful way. However, this can only be achieved by those seriously committed to the act of replication. Such a commitment to act, mimic, or replicate a respected leader is the result of true discipleship.
Therefore, you could actually translate this phrase:
“…But skillfully and convincingly act like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
A good actor studies the character and life of another and then portrays that person on a stage or on film. The actor obtains every bit of information he possibly can about the person in order to better portray him in his acting role. Then the actor begins to practice acting just like that person — trying to talk like him, think like him, and even walk and dress like him. If the actor acts long enough and consistently enough, the character role he is playing can actually become a part of the actor’s own identity. That’s the power of acting!
The writer of Hebrews understood the power of imitation. That’s why he said in essence, “If you want to walk in faith, find someone who successfully walks in faith. Watch what he says, how he behaves, and how he lives — and then act like him! Do what he does; say what he says; and behave like he behaves. Be an imitator of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises!”
You may ask, “But isn’t it hypocritical to act like I feel great when I really feel bad?” Absolutely not! Acting and imitating is foundational to the Christian life. It is for this very reason you are instructed to “…put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh…” (Romans 13:14). When you wake up in the morning, you may not feel like smiling, talking, or saying anything nice to anyone. But because you want to please the Lord, what do you do? You choose to be nice, to smile, to speak kindly; in other words, you choose to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. You make the decision to act differently than you naturally feel.
Putting on Christ is a daily mindset — a daily, hour-by-hour determination. So wake up and declare that you have the mind of Christ! Find some godly people who live according to who they truly are in the Spirit — new creations with the nature, character, desires, and behavior of Jesus Christ. Study their lives, and follow their example. In other words, ACT like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I need an example that I can follow and imitate! Your Word commands me to imitate strong and successful spiritual leaders, so I am asking You to help me find that exact leader whom You want me to follow and imitate. Give me the grace to do what he does, say what he says, and act the way he acts, until finally I no longer have to act because I have become like the person I have been imitating. Holy Spirit, I want to be obedient to God’s Word. Since God tells me to mimic those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God, I’m asking You to please help me recognize the people whom I should look to as spiritual examples in my walk with God.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I do not have to find my way by myself! By locating godly examples, I can imitate these people’s lives and produce the same fruit they produce in their lives. So right now I choose to follow the examples of those who have preceded me — acting like them and replicating both their acts and their godly fruit in my life. God’s Word says this is what I am to do, so I will do it as I am commanded. The Holy Spirit will help me know exactly who should be the supreme examples in my life, and He will help me follow their example as I ought to do.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life right now? Have you ever taken the time to let that leader know that you appreciate him?
2. What have you done to establish a relationship with that leader? Write down ideas regarding what you can do to strengthen your relationship with him.
3. What in particular do you respect about this leader, and what fruit is demonstrated in his life that you want to see reproduced in your own life? Take the time to really think about this question, and write down your answers.