Check the Patterns
“What you heard from me, keep as the PATTERN of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”- 2 Timothy 1:13
One thing that has a great deal of our attention are PATTERNS. We are constantly checking weather, traffic, and financial patterns. Just think about the number of times a week people use Waze or Google Maps, check stock investments, and visit weather websites to get the ten-day forecast. Patterns can influence one’s decision-making, signal a concern involving a loved one, and provide clues in predicting what is to come.
When it comes to our faith in Christ there are also important patterns to follow. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” The challenge is not getting caught up in patterns that fail to please God, deliver life change, and bless others. The focus nowadays trends more towards religious patterns: church attendance; giving; and abstaining from things. These all have value in strengthening our faith but are never meant to replace the true source and substance that comes from God. In 1 Corinthians 13:3 Paul states, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
The patterns of faith are not abstract formulas to gain favor, rather a life being formed more and more into the image and pattern of Jesus Christ Himself! Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself to us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” The more we follow Jesus the more we will see patterns of love, mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice, and generosity flowing in our lives. These are the patterns we should prioritize, practice regularly, and monitor continually. The manner by which we choose to help others, forgive the one who offends us, and display love to the seemingly unlovable is what God cares most deeply about and will best define whether we are following Jesus well.
Let’s get our eyes off religious practices and have our attention fixed on Christ patterns. Let’s be committed to having them inform and direct us. In Leviticus 18:5 the Lord speaks, “Keep My decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.” By watching them and waiting on the Lord we will be kept safe, we will be on the right path, we will be full of success, and will help many to encounter God.